Born in 1920 and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Elaine de Kooning (née Fried) studied at Hunter College and the Leonardo da Vinci Art School. At the age of 18, she met fellow artist Willem de Kooning at a cafeteria, became his student, and quickly found herself at the center of the avant garde. The couple married in 1943. After years of financial struggle for both artists, Willem de Kooning emerged as an acclaimed and commercially successful Abstract Expressionist in the 1950s.

Elaine de Kooning had her first solo exhibition in 1952 at the Stable Gallery. While she is best known for her association with Abstract Expressionism, she also worked in a more realistic vein, bringing her spontaneous gestural style and talent for deft characterization to landscapes, portraits and, later in her career, a series inspired by paleolithic cave


paintings. She often worked in series, sketching rapidly and exploring every facet of her subject matter.

De Kooning was also an accomplished writer and teacher. Her articles for ARTnews and other publications did much to publicize and illuminate the personalities and ideas behind Abstract Expressionism. She taught at colleges and universities both in the New York area and elsewhere in the county.

De Kooning died of cancer on Long Island in 1989.

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