Elaine de Kooning

Elaine de Kooning


Nationality: American

Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York

Elaine de Kooning Elaine Marie Catherine Fried was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1918. Although she spent most of her life overshadowed by her famous husband, Willem de Kooning, she was an eccentric personality and talent, who as a child excelled at almost everything in school. After only a short time at Hunter College, she began studying at the Leonardo da Vinci Art School in New York. When she met fellow artist Milton Resnick, Elaine joined him and enrolled in the American Artists School, during which she became politically active and often attended meetings sponsored by the Communist party. An art teacher introduced her to Willem, and they married in December 1943, beginning a tumultuous marriage in which both artists increasingly grew apart through the years. Elaine fell in love with their time at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where she began teaching in 1948, meeting artists such as John Cage and Merce Cunningham for whom she designed a stage set for their production, exemplifying the artistic community’s collaborative nature.

Elaine also became one of the first writers to compose reputable reviews on artists such as Hans Hofmann and Josef Albers, making a name for herself as an art critic. In 1949, the same year she exhibited with Willem at the Sidney Janis Gallery, they organized the Artists’ Club along with fellow artists. She gathered inspiration from diverse perspectives, allowing her artwork and practices to evolve uniquely from that of her husband and contemporaries. Rather than pure abstraction, she almost always retained the representational in her gestural, expressionist paintings. As such, Elaine became a great portraitist, painting the inimitable personalities of several artists. One of her most famous commissions was a series of paintings of John F. Kennedy for the Truman Library in 1963, but when he died, Elaine ceased her painting for an entire year.

Although Willem and Elaine agreeably separated in 1957, they never officially divorced. She developed a large reputation as a teacher, working at Yale, Pratt, Carnegie Mellon, Wagner, and the University of Pennsylvania. As one of the most powerful female artists of her time, Elaine de Kooning was a great influence in the male-dominated world of abstract expressionism. She passed away from lung cancer in February 1989.


Elaine de Kooning Original Art Values Sold at Auction

Item Realized
ELAINE DE KOONING (American, 1919-1989) Portrait of John F. Kennedy, 1963 Oil on canvas 96 x 48 inches (243.8 x 121.9
ELAINE DE KOONING (American, 1919-1989)Portrait of John F. Kennedy, 1963Oil on canvas96 x 48 inches (243.8 x 121.9...
Lot 63205
Auction 5002
Friday, November 21, 2008
ELAINE DE KOONING (American, 1919-1989) Untitled (Bacchus), 1982 Oil on canvas 58 x 44 inches (147.3 x 111.8 cm) Ini
ELAINE DE KOONING (American, 1919-1989)Untitled (Bacchus), 1982Oil on canvas58 x 44 inches (147.3 x 111.8 cm)Ini...
Lot 63213
Auction 5002
Friday, November 21, 2008
ELAINE DE KOONING (American, 1919-1989) Home, 1953 Oil on masonite 18 x 14 inches (45.7 x 35.6 cm) Signed lower righ
ELAINE DE KOONING (American, 1919-1989)Home, 1953Oil on masonite18 x 14 inches (45.7 x 35.6 cm)Signed lower righ...
Lot 72045
Auction 5055
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Elaine de Kooning (1919-1989) Peche-Merle, 1985 Lithograph on paper 8-3/4 x 11-1/4 inches (22.2 x 28.6 cm) (sight) E
Elaine de Kooning (1919-1989)Peche-Merle, 1985Lithograph on paper8-3/4 x 11-1/4 inches (22.2 x 28.6 cm) (sight)E...
Lot 12051
Auction 191749
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Elaine de Kooning (American, 1919-1989) Horse- East Hampton, 1987 Watercolor on paper 9 x 11-7/8 inches (22.9 x 30.2
Elaine de Kooning (American, 1919-1989)Horse- East Hampton, 1987Watercolor on paper9 x 11-7/8 inches (22.9 x 30.2 ...
Lot 61701
Auction 5337
Sunday, December 10, 2017

View prices realized on more items like this

PLEASE NOTE: All prices realized reflect the final hammer price PLUS the buyer's premium in auctions that charge a buyer's premium. Each item has a notation at the top of the listing indicating whether that lot included a buyer's premium. All information listed is intended to be as accurate as possible, but errors are possible. Please use this guide carefully and inform us of any inaccuracies.

Art Values

How do you know what's valuable?

Our Art Value Guide provides free information about how to value your Elaine de Kooning artwork.

Get a FREE auction evaluation

Our experts will evaluate your Elaine de Kooning artwork for auction or private treaty sale.

Want More Elaine de Kooning?

Be the first to know when more items from this artist are available by adding it your wantlist.

Interested in selling or consigning?

Learn more about selling or consigning your Elaine de Kooning artwork with Heritage Auctions.

Other artists with this Nationality