Still Unearthing Discoveries in de Kooning’s Brush Strokes
Librado Romero/The New York Times
By CAROL VOGEL
Published: September 13, 2011
The first thing visitors will see at the entrance to the Museum of Modern Art’s sprawling Willem de Kooning retrospective, which opens on Sunday, is a wall of photographs that chronicle six stages in the creation of the legendary painting “Woman I” (1950-52). John Elderfield, MoMA’s chief curator emeritus of painting and sculpture, said he chose these images as a starting point because they illustrate “that de Kooning was an artist about process.”
Librado Romero/The New York Times
Mr. Elderfield has a big story to tell. The exhibition includes some 200 works made over nearly seven decades — paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures — and occupies the museum’s entire 17,000-square-foot sixth floor, a first for an exhibition since MoMA reopened after its expansion in 2004.
It is also the first comprehensive look at de Kooning’s work in nearly 30 years (The Whitney Museum of American Art held the last thorough retrospective in 1983.)
“This is an artist people want to know of,” Mr. Elderfield said, adding that he believed de Kooning would be “rediscovered by a new generation.”
Because the price of postwar art has escalated so drastically over the last few years, with major works by de Kooning fetching astronomical prices, the show, which consists primarily of loans, is costing MoMA greatly. While the museum will not give an exact figure, experts familiar with the retrospective say it includes more than $4 billion worth of art: an enormously costly group of works to transport and insure, making it perhaps the most expensive exhibition in the institution’s history.
Delving into the career of a master like de Kooning would seem unlikely to yield discoveries, given that his story has been told so many times, including in a biography that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2005: his arrival in New York from his native Netherlands as a stowaway in 1926; his hard-drinking life in cold-water lofts; his first one-man show at 44; and his eventual fame as the artist who epitomized the improvisational bravura of Abstract Expressionism. (De Kooning’s waning years are well known too: in the 1980s he was given a diagnosis of dementia, and in 1989 he was declared incompetent by his lawyer and his daughter, Lisa.)
But Mr. Elderfield approached his subject as if on an art historical treasure hunt. As he started working on the exhibition, one clue led to another and another, until he was able to piece together new insights from technical studies, photographs, popular postwar films and even magazine clips about movie stars of the day.
“He’s someone whose art is hard to get your hands around,” said Mr. Elderfield, standing in the middle of the exhibition’s galleries on a recent morning as the last few paintings were being hung. “He was always changing. When his colleagues — Pollock, Newman and Rothko — found a signature style, they stuck with it. When de Kooning found his signature style, he would abandon it and struggle to discover the next one.”
Some periods of his work are better known than others. For example, many de Kooning canvases from the 1940s — quasi-abstract paintings that are darker than much of what he’d done before and have an almost grotesque quality — have rarely been exhibited.
The paradox is that those paintings represent the era when, Mr. Elderfield said, “de Kooning becomes de Kooning.” Among the works from that decade are a group of canvases called “Secretary,” “The Secretary’s Day” and “Stenographer,” which reflect “that postwar era when women entered the workforce,” as Mr. Elderfield put it.
Curious about the artist’s inspiration for these compositions — paintings and drawings dominated by shapes that look strangely like Casper the Friendly Ghost (who had his film premiere in 1945, Mr. Elderfield learned), combined with odd, amoebic figures; abstracted body parts; and grinning faces — Mr. Elderfield said he “turned to the wonders of Google.” That’s where he discovered several lessons in secretarial efficiency put out by Coronet Instructional Films, which featured calendar pads similar to those in many of de Kooning’s paintings.
Google was also where Mr. Elderfield found books from that era devoted to teaching stenography; many of de Kooning’s black-and-white canvases from that decade, he came to believe, were inspired by the hooks and curves of the symbols found in shorthand.
Lauren Mahony, the show’s curatorial assistant, made discoveries too. To get a feeling for what New York looked like in the 1940s and ’50s, she began scouring old Life magazines, and happened on an article titled “Movie Bad Girls” that included a picture of the Italian actress Silvana Mangano, who starred as a rice field worker in the 1949 movie “Bitter Rice.”
“De Kooning had said he was influenced by ‘Bitter Rice’ when he painted ‘Excavation,’ ” Ms. Mahony said of his seminal painting from 1950, which is on loan from the Art Institute of Chicago. “But he could never have seen the film, because it was only released in the United States after he’d finished ‘Excavation.’ ”
Curiously, the same issue of Life has an article about the excavation of New York City subway stations, suggesting to Ms. Mahony and Mr. Elderfield that de Kooning had been influenced by that particular issue of the magazine, rather than directly by the movie.
Perhaps Mr. Elderfield’s biggest revelation concerns de Kooning’s third series of “Women” paintings, this one from the ’50s. During the show’s planning, David White, Robert Rauschenberg’s official curator, told him of albums filled with photographs that Rauschenberg had taken of de Kooning’s Manhattan studio. Together these images made clear that “Woman I,” “Woman II” and “Woman III” were not completed in that order, as had long been believed.
Other photographs tell different stories. In the 1980s, when de Kooning was living and working on the East End of Long Island, his assistants would take photographs of the studio and the works in progress almost daily. By this time he was suffering from dementia.
“People later talked about how de Kooning was not in control of what he was doing, but it was clear from these photographs that he was,” Mr. Elderfield said. “The kind of continuous revision that happened to these pictures has very much de Kooning’s signature to it.”
These late, often haunting canvases — sparer than the sensual and colorfully theatrical work he created when he was at the height of his powers — have often been debated, because it is hard to know how much he painted himself and how much was done by studio assistants.
“When you think of artists today like Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons, who have armies of assistants virtually creating their work, does it really matter?” Mr. Elderfield said. “I don’t think it does. In de Kooning’s case, we know his hand is in all his work.”
《中英對照讀新聞》Chinese archaeologists unearth 2,400-year-old soup 中國考古學家挖掘出2400年的湯 ◎自由時報 國際新聞中心
The liquid and bones were in a sealed bronze cooking vessel dug up near the ancient capital of Xian - home to the country’s famed terracotta warriors. Tests are being carried out to identify the ingredients. An odourless liquid, believed to be wine, was also found.
The pots were discovered in a tomb being excavated to make way for an extension to the local airport."It’s the first discovery of bone soup in Chinese archaeological history," the newspaper quoted Liu Daiyun of the Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology as saying."The discovery will play an important role in studying the eating habits and culture of the Warring States Period（475-221BC）
The scientists said the tomb could have held the body of either a member of the land-owning class or a low-ranking military officer, the report said.報告說，科學家指出，這個墓穴可能埋葬地主階級或是低階將官的屍體。
In 1974, the terracotta army was found there at the burial site of Qin Shihuang, China’s first emperor. He presided over the unification of China in 221BC and ruled until 210BC.1974年，兵馬俑在秦始皇的墓地出土。秦始皇是中國第一位皇帝，在西元前221年統治統一的中國，統治直到西元前210年。
unearth：動詞，出土，發現。例句：A private detective has apparently unearthed some fresh evidence.（私家偵探顯然發現了新證據。）dig up：片語。挖掘。例句：They’re digging up the road outside to repair the electricity cables.（他們挖了外面的路修電線。）preside over sth：片語，主持，負責。例句：Judge Langdale is to preside over the official enquiry into the case.（蘭德爾法官將負責主持此案的正式調查。）
He shows how Chinese artists used related modular systems to create ritual bronzes, to produce the First Emperor's terracotta army, and to develop the world's first printing systems.
百來尊新兵馬俑 China unearths over 100 new terracotta warriors
China unearths over 100 new terracotta warriorsBEIJING — Chinese archaeologists have unearthed 110 new terracotta warriors that laid buried for centuries, an official said Monday, part of the famed army built to guard the tomb of China's first emperor.
The life-size figures were excavated near the Qin Emperor's mausoleum in China's northern Xi'an city over the course of three years, and archaeologists also uncovered 12 pottery horses, parts of chariots, weapons and tools.
"The... excavation on the 200-square-metre (2,152-square-feet) site has found a total of 110 terracotta figurines," Shen Maosheng from the Qin Shihuang Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum -- which oversees the tomb -- told AFP.
"The most significant discovery this time around is that the relics that were found were well-preserved and colourfully painted," Shen, deputy head of the museum's archaeology department, said.
He added that archaeologists had pinpointed the location of another 11 warriors but had yet to unearth them.
The discovery is the latest in China's cultural sector, after experts found that the Great Wall of China -- which like the Terracotta Army is a UNESCO World Heritage site -- was much longer than previously thought.
Shen said experts had expected the colours on some of the warriors and wares uncovered at the site to have faded over the centuries, and were surprised to see how well preserved they still were.
The finds also included a shield that was reportedly used by soldiers in the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), with red, green and white geometric patterns.
Qin Shihuang -- the Qin emperor who had the army built -- presided over the unification of China in 221 BC and is seen as the first emperor of the nation.
The ancient terracotta army was discovered in 1974 by a peasant digging a well. It represents one of the greatest archaeological finds of modern times, and was listed as a World Heritage Site in 1987.
The news comes after a five-year archaeological survey found the Great Wall of China was more than double the previously estimated length.
The survey -- released to the public last week -- found the wall was 21,196 kilometres (13,170 miles) long, compared to an official 2009 figure of 8,851 kilometres.
Beijing authorities on Saturday also reiterated plans to open two new sections of the Great Wall to tourists and expand two other existing areas to help meet booming demand.
- Sweet and pleasant to taste or smell: a luscious melon. See synonyms at delicious.
- Having strong sensual or sexual appeal; seductive.
- Richly appealing to the senses or the mind: a luscious, vivid description.
- Archaic. Excessively sweet; cloying.
[Middle English lucius, alteration of licious, perhaps short for delicious, delicious. See delicious.]lusciously lus'cious·ly adv.
lusciousness lus'cious·ness n.
- térra cót • ta
- kɑ'tə | kɔ'tə
- terra cottaの慣用句
- terra-cotta, （全1件）
2 テラコッタ色, 褐色がかった橙(だいだい)色.