Willem De Kooning

Between 1950 and 1953, de Kooning created a series of paintings and drawings depicting exaggerated, even grotesque, women. In Two Women I, the figures emerge from a field of abstract marks and erasures, underscoring the artist’s dual commitment to abstraction and figuration at a time when Abstract Expressionism was the prevailing artistic movement in the United States. The women are arrayed frontally, one with her arms raised behind her head in likely reference to Picasso’s Les demoiselles d’Avignon (1907). The figures’ large eyes and breasts recall Paleolithic fertility sculptures, attesting to the longevity of the female nude as a subject in art.

Willem De Kooning
American, 1904–1997
Two Women I, 1952
Pastel and charcoal
Richard and Mary L. Gray Art Trust
Gray Collection Trust, Art Institute of Chicago
© Willem De Kooning / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Photography by Jamie Stukenberg, Professional Graphics Inc.