Portrait in a Minute: Elaine de Kooning – National Portrait Gallery

Portrait in a Minute: Elaine de Kooning – National Portrait Gallery


(Music) Welcome to Portrait in a Minute. Today,
we’re at an offsite National Portrait Gallery storage facility. Behind me is a portrait of Elaine de Kooning by Elaine de Kooning. Elaine de Kooning is generally
characterized as an abstract expressionist this work, her self-portrait in the
National Portrait Gallery collection is a figurative work and leans more on
de Kooning’s early training and her experiments as a
social realist a brief visual analysis of this portrait depicts a handsome woman with shoulder-length hair wearing a large sweater, reading a book in this room of artfully created objects a
weaving of some sort, a couple of photos, and some small pieces of sculpture. At her feet are what appear to be a
coffee cup and an ashtray. The overall palette for this work is very earthy and the
subject’s features her hair and the wall behind her in soft
browns and tans. There are one or two
exceptions, the chief one being the pink table behind her. The medium for this work is oil on masonite and it was created in 1946. Though this is an example of Elaine de Kooning’s unevolved style in only a few years, remember this work is from 1946, she will fully embrace a more abstract
portraiture, an example of which we see in her large
composition of President John F Kennedy from a series of sittings with him in late 1962 going into 1963. This work shows a much brighter palette and a much broader stroke however, it captures a sincerity an emotive intensity that is equal to if not greater than her previous work
and it is in this more abstract way that de
Kooning created her greatest works in
portraiture. This has been Portrait in a Minute.

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