Willem de Kooning in his East Hampton studio, New York, 1971
Gift of Kenneth Tyler 2002
Photographer: Kenneth Tyler

Willem de Kooning was born in 1904 in Rotterdam. After leaving school early, he worked as an apprentice house painter while attending night classes at the Academie van Beeldende Kunsten, before migrating to the United States in 1926. Once settled in New York he again worked as a house painter before dedicating himself to his art entirely in 1930, with periods of teaching at both Black Mountain College and Yale University. De Kooning is renowned for his Abstract paintings, in particular his Women series, which he first began in 1938 and of which the National Gallery holds an outstanding example, Woman V.

Later in life de Kooning broadened his attention to include sculpture, and in 1971 completed a sculptural edition, Untitled, at Gemini GEL. The edition was cast in pewter from a clay maquette. As in the majority of de Kooning’s paintings the subject of the work is the abstracted human figure.
Emilie Owens

Chronology
 

1904
Born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands

1916
Begins apprenticeship with the decoration firm of Jan and Jaap Gidding

1917–21
Enrols in night classes at Rotterdam Academy of Fine Arts and Technology

1926
Emigrates to United States of America and settles in Hoboken, New Jersey; works initially as a house painter and later completes lettering, sign painting, and carpentry

1927
Moves to New York, New York; works for AS Beck shoe stores on window designs

1935
Employed by the Federal Arts Project in the mural division on the Williamsburg Federal Housing Project, Brooklyn, New York

1936
Begins to paint full time; included in exhibition, New horizons in American art, at Museum of Modern Art, New York

1937
Receives commission for Medicine mural for the Hall of Pharmacy at the 1939 World. s Fair in New York, alongside murals by Michael Loew and Stuyvesant van Veen

1938
Begins to paint first series of Woman; becomes close friends with David Smith and Barnett Newman

1940
Designs sets and costumes for Les Nuages, performed by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo at the Metropolitan Opera, New York

1944
Included in exhibition, Abstract and Surrealist art in America, Mortimer Brandt Gallery, New York

1946
Creates backdrop for the ballet Labyrinth, performed by Marie Marchowsky at the New York Times Hall

1948
First solo exhibition, at Charles Egan Gallery, New York; teaches at Black Mountain College, Black Mountain, North Carolina; included in exhibition, Annual exhibition, at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

1949
Included in exhibition, Annual exhibition, at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

1950
Included in Venice biennale, Italy; included in exhibition, Annual exhibition, at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; teaches at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut; begins second series of Woman paintings

1951
Included in exhibitions: Abstract painting and sculpture in America, at Museum of Modern Art, New York; Annual exhibition, at the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, where he receives the Logan Medal; included in Biennial of S�o-Paulo, Brazil

1952
Included in exhibition, Carnegie international, at the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1953
Travelling retrospective exhibition, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; included in Biennial of S�o-Paulo, Brazil

1954
Included in Venice biennale, Italy

1955
Included in exhibition, Carnegie international, at the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh

1956
Included in Venice biennale, Italy

1957
Completes his first print by ilustrating Harold Rosenberg. s poem . Revenge. in Twenty-one etchings and poems (New York: Morris Gallery, 1960)

1959
Included in exhibition, Documenta 2, Kassel, West Germany

1960
Makes first lithographs at University of California, Berkeley

1961
Included in exhibition, Carnegie international, at the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh

1962
Becomes a citizen of the United States of America

1963
Moves to Long Island, New York; receives the President. s Medal, Washington, DC; included in exhibition, Annual exhibition, at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

1964
Receives Guggenheim International Award and Presidential Medal of Freedom; solo exhibition, Willem de Kooning retrospective: drawings, Allan Stone Gallery, New York; included in exhibition, Documenta 3, Kassel, West Germany

1965
Travelling retrospective exhibition, Willem de Kooning: a retrospective exhibition, at Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts; included in exhibition, Annual exhibition, at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

1966
Included in travelling exhibition, Two decades of American printmaking, which travels to Japan; Italy; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

1967
Included in exhibition, Annual exhibition, at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

1968
Travelling retrospective exhibition, Willem de Kooning, originating at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

1969
Included in exhibitions: The new American painting and sculpture, at Museum of Modern Art, New York; Annual exhibition, at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; travels to Japan

1972
Completes multiple Untitled at Gemini GEL, Los Angeles; included in exhibition, Annual exhibition, at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

1973
Receives Albert Einstein Commemorative Award from Yeshiva University, New York

1974
Travelling solo exhibitions: Lithographs 1970–72, originating at Art Gallery, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa; De Kooning drawings/sculpture, organised by Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota

1976
Included in exhibition, Annual exhibition, at the Art Institute of Chicago

1977
Travelling solo exhibition, Willem de Kooning: paintings and sculpture, organised by Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; included in exhibition, Documenta 6, Kassel, West Germany

1979
Receives Andrew W. Mellon prize (together with Eduardo Chillida); receives the Order of Orange-Nassau from the Dutch Government; solo exhibition, Willem de Kooning, at the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh; included in travelling exhibition, America and Europe: a century of modern masters from the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, originating at Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth and travelling to Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; and Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

1981
Included in exhibition, Annual exhibition, at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

1983
Travelling retrospective exhibition, Willem de Kooning: the North Atlantic Light 1960–83, originating at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

1984
Receives Max Beckmann Prize from the city of Frankfurt am Main, West Germany; solo exhibition, The drawings of Willem de Kooning, at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; travelling retrospective exhibition, Willem de Kooning retrospective exhibition, at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

1986
Receives National Medal of Arts and the Mayor. s Liberty Medal, New York

1987
Included in exhibition, Annual exhibition, at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

1990
Solo exhibition, Willem de Kooning: works on paper 1954–1984, organised by Contempo Modern Art Gallery, Eindhoven, the Netherlands

1991
Travelling solo exhibition, Willem de Kooning: a selection of printer. s proofs from the collection of Irwin Hollander, master printer, at Galeria Afinsa, Madrid

1996
Solo exhibition, Collection in context: Willem de Kooning. s door cycle, at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

1997
Willem de Kooning died in East Hampton, New York

Barbara Delano � Tyler Graphics Ltd; revised Kate Buckingham, 2006
This chronology provides an overview of selected biographical information, major solo and group exhibitions held within the artist's own lifetime.

Further information will be added to this site as the National Gallery proceeds with its research and documentation.

Last updated November 2014