What could we say about Willem de Kooning? You already probably know that he was one of the leading figures of abstract expressionism; an artist who is known for his colorful and abstract compositions. He was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands in 1904, but lived in the United States for years. We could say that the crucial year of his career was 1946, when he began to create a series of black and white paintings, which he would continue into 1949. His black paintings are important to the history of abstract expressionism of their densely impacted forms, their mixed media, and their technique. De Kooning’s most famous series of works is Woman series, where he adopted the unique technique and style that is so recognizable today. This famous artist died in 1997, in East Hampton, New York.
During his life, de Kooning created a huge number of beautiful artworks. MoMA organized a huge retrospective in fall of 2011, where the artist’s most famous pieces were exhibited. In this article, we are presenting 10 most expensive art pieces by de Kooning sold at auctions. This great artist is very popular among collectors, and his artworks are regularly being offered at world’s biggest auction houses, that you can see in our auction database. So, let’s take a look; what are the most expensive de Kooning’s pieces sold at auctions? Scroll down, and find out!
This beautiful piece is considered to be one of the most important works from this twentieth-century master’s legendary oeuvre. Created in 1940, Abstraction is one of the most serene works by the artist from this halcyon period. In this painting, a viewer can see a fully realized interplay of linear elegance, automatic gesture and sumptuous color. It is a spectacularly vigorous and vibrant painting that powerfully conveys the artist's indebtedness to inherited precedents such as cubism and surrealism, while also firmly establishing him as a leading painter of gestural abstractions. It was sold for $17,500,000 at Sotheby’s New York in 2012.
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Untitled XXIII is one of a remarkable series of large oils that de Kooning made in the mid-1970s in a sudden burst of activity. Absorbed throughout much of the early seventies with the making of sculpture and the new material possibilities it provided him, de Kooning painted relatively few pictures. Mixing the precise color he required in a series of individual salad bowls laid out on vast glass-top tables that he also used as palettes, de Kooning sought to divine the exact tones he required with the precision and patience of a scientist – which can obviously be seen in the composition itself. In 2007, the piece was sold for $17,800,000 at Christie’s New York.
By clicking here, you can find out more about how this beautiful artwork ranks on art market.
With its magnificently textured surface, and sumptuous collisions of colors, Untitled XXXI presents a surface of endless fascinations ripe with subtle illusions to the mercurial glow of the water and the sinuous pinky flesh of the female figure. The piece is a perfect example of de Kooning’s style and technique he embraced during the 1970s. This great piece was sold for $18,800,000 at Christie’s New York, in May 2014.
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When Willem de Kooning’s Interchange was sold for $18,800,000, at Sotheby’s New York, in 1989, it was the highest auction price ever paid for a contemporary artwork – of course, we saw highest prices later on. This vigorous composition of slashing brush strokes was painted in 1955, and it synthesizes de Kooning's themes and techniques of the 1940s and 1950s.
De Kooning’ Untitled XXI is a representative artist’s masterpiece from 1970s. During these years, de Kooning amplified the texture of his paintings by thinning oil paint with water, and adding kerosene, benzene or safflower oil as a binding agent. With these adjustments to his material, the medium of paint was thickened and transformed with clay-like viscosity, evoking the fleshy figural bronzes that had previously occupied his practice.
Untitled V of 1975 encapsulates the full force of Willem de Kooning’s abstract vernacular. Through each visceral swathe, smear, drip and blow, the artist here asserts his total mastery of this medium. This amazing piece was sold at Sotheby’s New York, in November 2015, for $22,000,000, which was below the low estimate ($25,000,000).
Clamdigger is one of the most renowned pieces by Willem de Kooning. This stunning sculpture was modeled in clay in 1972, and cast in bronze in 1976. Having remained in the artist’s personal collection since its inception, the close bond between de Kooning and this particular work is quite profound. For the last four decades Clamdigger has stood guard at the entrance to de Kooning’s studio in Springs, New York—a place he moved to in the early 1960s to escape what he regarded as the distractions of Manhattan. The piece was sold for $26,000,000 at Christie’s New York, in 2014.
The “runner-up” is amazing painting Untitled VIII, composed with a myriad of captivating techniques and roiled with remarkable texture. Captivated by the shimmering surface of the water and its power to reflect, merge, and contort elements from the surrounding land and sky, de Kooning sought to immerse himself in the constantly shifting abstract face of color and form of the luminous watery landscape that surrounded him in East Hampton. The piece was sold for $28,500,000, at Christie’s New York, in 2013.
All Images used for illustrative purposes only.
Responding to a practice he had begun through making sculpture of paring the clay down to nothing in order to start over on a sculpture, in the mid-1970s de Kooning added to this technique of building up the imagery of his paintings by also scraping it off and paring it down, even sanding its surface in such a way that often only a faint trace of his earlier efforts remained. Untitled XXV was painted in 1997, and was sold for
$59,000,000, at Christie’s Post War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale in New York, in 2016.