This in-depth study of the paintings of Willem de Kooning (1904-1997) from the 1940s through the 1970s breaks new ground in its analysis of the artist's working methods and yields new information about previously unreported materials. De Kooning's idiosyncratic working methods have long engendered intense speculation and debate among conservators and art historians, primarily on the basis of visual inspection and anecdotal accounts rather than rigorous technical analysis. This is the first systematic study of de Kooning's creative process to use comprehensive scientific examinations of the artist's pigments, binders, and supports to inform art historical interpretations, thereby presenting a key to the complicated evolution of the artist's work.
Written for conservation scientists, conservators, specialists in modern art history, museum curators, and practicing artists, this book offers insights into the way an artist can achieve radical changes in style. The technical discussions will have practical applications for conservators, curators, collections managers, and collectors who care for twentieth-century art.
Susan F. Lake is head of collection management and chief conservator at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.