WILLEM DE KOONING (1904-1997)
'Order to me is to be ordered about', Willem de Kooning said. "Between Sense and de Kooning" brings focus - but not more than the artist might have accepted - to how he worked and thought. The book respects de Kooning's idea that art is not about progress or development, but is more of a sensory phenomenon than such conceptual orders would make it appear.
The inclusion of 'sense' in the title refers to both sensation or feeling and a sense of direction or reason. "Between Sense and de Kooning" addresses interpretive problems that have complicated much of the writing about this artist. With detailed analysis of specific works throughout de Kooning's career, the book will appeal not only to art historians (for whom many of the works are canonical) but also to anyone curious to understand the terms under which such an independent and pictorially daring figure gained lasting recognition.
Shiff discusses de Kooning's use of materials and his technical experimentation. He had a fascination with liquids - water, oil and emulsions, as well as the liquid quality associated with stretching and spreading. Richard Shiff looks at the artist's painting processes, highlighting his tendency to transfer images, even actual paint, from one work to another.
De Kooning observed the most commonplace things (such as his famous Women) and ordinary people in ordinary actions, yet he observed them in terms of what the author describes as commonplace deformations, so that the commonplace quality is not recognised as such. The artist created an exotica of the mundane. Shiff analyses the large number of drawings done from life, from memories of things observed in life and also drawings done while watching television during the 1960s.
Many of these works have not been published before and have rarely been discussed.