Willem de Kooning sets a new record with his Untitled XXV (1977) closed at $59 million, ( or $66.3 million with the buyer’s premium ), well over its estimated price of $40 million. That figure was almost twice the previous record of $32.1 million achieved when Untitled VIII, also from his paintings of 1977, was sold at Christie’s in 2013.
Willem de Kooning was born on April 24, 1904, into a working class family in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Driven by an acutely perceptive mind, a strong work ethic, and persistent self doubt – coupled with the determination to achieve – the charismatic de Kooning became one of America’s and the twentieth century’s most influential artists.
Showing an interest in art from an early age, de Kooning was apprenticed to a leading design firm when he was twelve and, with its encouragement, enrolled in night school at the prestigious Rotterdam Academy of Fine Arts and Techniques. Nevertheless, after briefly working as a house painter, he established himself as a commercial artist and became immersed in his own painting and the New York art world.
By the late forties and early fifties, de Kooning and his New York contemporaries, including Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, Adolph Gottlieb, Ad Reinhardt, Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko, became notorious for rejecting the accepted stylistic norms such as Regionalism, Surrealism and Cubism by dissolving the relationship between foreground and background and using paint to create emotive, abstract gestures. This movement was variously labeled “Action Painting,” “Abstract Expressionism” or simply the “New York School.”
De Kooning and this group finally stole the spotlight and were responsible for the historic shift of attention to New York in the years following World War II.
Above Willem de kooning “The trouble with being poor is that it takes up all your time”