Eric Molinsky knew he wanted to be a public radio producer by the tender age of 32. He had been hooked on Studio 360 while sitting in his cubicle along Sunset Boulevard, drawing storyboards for Rugrats. Finally it was time to stop annoying his fellow animators with his lunchbreak theories about the cultural zeitgest, and he moved back East to hook up with the Studio 360 crowd.
Abstract Expressions of Willem de Kooning
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 - 12:00 PM
If you live in New York or can make it there by January, the season's must-see painting exhibition is the new Willem de Kooning retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, which spans the artist’s long and productive career. We see his early days as the Dutch immigrant searched for a style. A large section is devoted to his mid-career series of abstract "Woman" paintings — highly controversial in the 1950s, and now considered masterpieces.
De Kooning was accused of attacking and dissecting the female form with grotesque paint strokes that were surrogates for violence. You don't have to be a psychoanalyst to be curious what was on de Kooning's mind, but the "Woman" series is astounding. The energy is inspiring. To me, the female figures have great playful power, and the colors feel as American as the Sunday funnies. I can’t remember the last time I stood in front of paintings and couldn’t pull away.
The exhibit concludes with de Kooning’s final works from the 1980s, when he was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. While his earlier works are a powerful explosion of abstract ideas, these later paintings are simpler and spacious. And they can feel depressing, if you see them as the deterioration of a great mind. But some critics, like the New York Times' Holland Cotter, argue that seeing these last works in the context of this retrospective shows that the master remained in command.
Willem de Kooning's "The Cat's Meow," 1987 (Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. © 2011 The Willem de Kooning Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)