Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Woman I



Many people did not like the portrayal of the woman in this piece. They had trouble accepting the ugly woman with her strong presence. "Woman I" by de Kooning portrays a monsterous, partially nude adult female in striking colors and rapidly executed brush strokes. The eyes bulge like a bug's, her mouth is crude, and her body is a sitting blob of flesh. This horrific representation of a woman resembled the portrayals of women in graffiti. Some compare the horrific display to Medusa, the ancient mythical woman whose ugly face turned people into stone, and de Kooning and his friends celebrated ancient mythology. He stated that the woman in "Woman I" belongs in goddess imagery. She also presents herself in a pose similar to that of a pin-up girl, showing both her grotesqueness and her basic appeal as a woman. She is both threatening and vulnerable.
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.

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