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Willem de Kooning Nonstop

Cherchez la femme

In the early 1950s, Willem de Kooning’s Woman I and subsequent paintings established him as a leading member of the abstract expressionist movement. His wildly impacted brushstrokes and heavily encrusted surfaces baffled most critics, who saw de Kooning’s monstrous female image as violent, aggressive, and ultimately the product of a misogynistic mind. In the image-rich Willem de Kooning Nonstop, Rosalind E. Krauss counters this view with a radical rethinking of de Kooning’s bold canvases and reveals his true artistic practices.

Krauss demonstrates that contrary to popular conceptions of de Kooning as an artist who painted chaotically only to finish abruptly, he was in fact constantly reworking the same subject based on a compositional template. This template informed all of his art and included a three-part vertical structure; the projection of his male point of view into the painting or sculpture; and the near-universal inclusion of the female form, which was paired with her redoubled projection onto his work. Krauss identifies these elements throughout de Kooning’s oeuvre, even in his paintings of highways, boats, and landscapes: Woman is always there. A thought-provoking study by one of America’s greatest art critics, Willem de Kooning Nonstop revolutionizes our understanding of de Kooning and shows us what has always been hiding in plain sight in his work.

176 pages | 65 color plates, 8 halftones | 6 3/4 x 9-1/2 | © 2015

Art: American Art, Art Criticism


“Krauss’s short book is written in lucid, cogent prose, making its argument as strongly through its 73 illustrations as it does through the written text. . . . Willem de Kooning Nonstop offers a fresh and persuasive perspective on its subject, provoking thoughtful engagement with his work and with paintings by other artists who influenced him.”

Times Higher Education

“One wonders whether we will lose these paintings when the intercessions of figures like Krauss come to a stop. The short answer is: most likely. For as the paintings age, thick with history and embedded in critical discourse, their need for the readings of modernists like Krauss has only become more acute. It is for this reason that we should continue to read Krauss, nonstop.”

Critical Inquiry

Willem de Kooning Nonstop is a master class in close looking, the most visually rigorous treatment available of de Kooning’s entire career.”

Pamela Lee, author of New Games: Postmodernism After Contemporary Art

“This book delivers incomparable visual insights with the calculated speed of de Kooning’s brushwork. Krauss homes in on everything vital and raw and rigorous in abstract expressionism and grants the reader de Kooning’s ultimate wish: to be inside the painting.”

Noam M. Elcott, author of Artificial Darkness: An Obscure History of Modern Art and Media

Willem de Kooning Nonstop is written with utter directness and generosity, and testifies on every page to its author’s unstoppable engagement with the realities of painting. It is strong above all by reason of Krauss’s ability to sense connections—to see Picasso and Matisse and Vermeer and Rubens in de Kooning—and to think (and feel) deeply about the tension between past and present in the artist’s best work. Abstract expressionism has rarely been defended with such passion.”

T. J. Clark, author of Picasso and Truth: From Cubism to Guernica

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

1 In Lieu of a Prefae

2 Triplex Nonstop

3 The Shadow Knows

4 Through a Glass Darkly

5 Totem and Taboo

6 “After Abstract Expressionism”

7  . . . Its Bad Name

8 De Kooning’s Doubt


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