De Kooning knew that the piece was going to be legendary, long before it was created. Even after he had spent months and months working on it and then rejected it, it still became a monumental piece. It is the most reproduced painting of the 50s.
He worked repeatedly on the face, and it is grossly based on the faces of models of the time. He also made many preliminary sketches for this piece, even though for most of his pieces he did simply applied paint to the canvas. De Kooning loved the thick application of paint, and he said that thick application is why oil paints were invented. This makes the piece jump out at the viewer, and it emphasized the scandal of the piece.