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Distributed for Reaktion Books

Between Sense and de Kooning

“Order to me is to be ordered about,” Willem de Kooning said. Between Sense and de Kooning explores how de Kooning worked and thought about art, while respecting de Kooning’s own ambiguities and embrace of the abstract. Richard Shiff acknowledges de Kooning’s idea that art is not about concepts like progress or development, but is instead a sensory phenomenon.
 
The word “sense” in the book’s title carries a dual meaning for Shiff in relationship to de Kooning’s art—it is used here as both a sensation or feeling and as reason. Employing both definitions, Shiff addresses the difficulty in interpreting de Kooning’s work that has complicated its critical reception in the art and scholarly world. With detailed analysis of specific works from throughout de Kooning’s career, many of which have never been published or studied before, Shiff discusses de Kooning’s use of materials and his technical experimentation. He looks at the artist’s painting processes, highlighting his tendency to transfer images, even actual paint, from one work to another, and considers his creation of an exotica of the mundane.
 
Between Sense and de Kooning provides a much-needed analysis and appreciation of de Kooning’s complete oeuvre and will appeal not only to art historians but also to anyone curious to understand how such an independent and daring artist gained lasting recognition.


312 pages | 100 color plates, 15 halftones | 8 1/4 x 11 | © 2011

Art: Art Criticism


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Reviews

“This revealingly rich interface between de Kooning’s thought, method, and art provides an erudite, timeless discussion.”

Choice

“Richard Shiff’s Between Sense and De Kooning is a tour de force. But of what precisely? It’s a category of art writing for which there is no genre, like De Kooning famously said of Duchamp, he’s a movement of one! This is not a survey or a biography but an extraordinarily deep conversation with the reader about what De Kooning painted and what he said about it. It is an absolutely unique and wonderful book.”

Jonathan Fineberg, author of Art Since 1940: Strategies of Being

Table of Contents

Biographical Chronology

Stop
Plan
Array
Cliché
Convergence
Theory
Sense
Accident
Turn
Title
Subject
Avant-garde
Nothing
Cézanne
Anachronism
Movement
Abstract
Flexible
Identity
Projection
Splash
Virtuoso
Twist
Centre
Unwhole
Type
Transition
Lipstick
Spread
Compress
Erotics
Glimpse
Slip
Hands
Politics
Scrub
Ideas
Reversal
Painting
End

References
Select Bibliography
Acknowledgements
Photo Acknowledgements

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