Italy to Open Its Largest-Ever Presentation of Willem de Kooning

Italy Will Soon Start Its Largest-Ever Presentation of Artist Willem de Kooning, Just In Time for the Venice Biennale.

Mar 2, 2024By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
Italy, Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning in his studio. Via Wikipedia


Italy will host its largest-ever presentation of artist Willem de Kooning, at the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice. The show was supposed to start on April 17, right in schedule for the Venice Biennale‘s pre-opening events, and to go on until September 15. A planned exhibit in Venice will be a crucial presentation to examine how the artist took inspiration from his two trips to Italy in 1959 and 1969. Also, the exhibit contains 75 works ranging from the late 1950s to the ’80s.


“Willem de Kooning and Italy” – Largest Exhibit Ever Held in the Country

Willem de Kooning, Untitled #12 (1969). © 2023 The Willem de Kooning Foundation, SIAE.


The upcoming exhibit will be the largest exhibition of the Dutch-American Abstract Expressionist‘s art ever held in Italy. The organisers claim it will be the only program to ever thoroughly examine his influence from Italy. The exhibition’s title is “Willem de Kooning and Italy”, curated by Gary Garrels, formerly of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and art historian Mario Codognato.


The director of the gallery, Giulio Manieri Elia, estimates that the last de Kooning exhibition in Italy happened almost eighteen years ago. Lenders to the show include the Museum of Modern Art, in New York, the Glenstone Museum, in Maryland, and the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid. There are also the Centre Pompidou, Paris Musée national d’art moderne, and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.


Dan Budnik, Willem de Kooning in his East Hampton Studio, New York (1971). © 2024 The Estate of Dan Budnik. All Rights Reserved. Artwork © 2024 The Willem de Kooning Foundation, SIAE


Willem de Kooning collected from the cacophony of visual excitement, light and movement in daily life to create his own lexicon. The impact of any visual encounter could render or generate an idea for moving into a new drawing or painting. Observing how his New York and East Hampton environments worked into his paintings and drawings, the same occurred in Rome. That is a gestalt of ‘glimpses”, said Garrels and Codognato in a joint statement.

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Which Pieces are Included?

Willem de Kooning, Screams of Children Come from Seagulls (Untitled XX) (1975). © 2024 The Willem de Kooning Foundation, SIAE.


They also added: “During these formative periods of time in Rome, de Kooning synthesised from all around him a new way of looking and activating his medium, experiencing both classical Italian paintings and sculpture, as well as the work of his new Italian artist friends”. De Kooning was an important member of a collective of painters in New York. He collaborated with the New York School, Abstract Expressionists, and action painters.


His stark depictions of women, which he started in 1950, are among his most well-known pieces. Three paintings from 1960 will be on display together for the first time. These are Door to the River, A Tree in Naples, and Villa Borghese. Included are also thirteen miniature bronzes that he made while in Rome. A sizable collection of the “Black and White Rome” pictures is also on display.


Willem de Kooning’s Woman-Ochre (1954–55) in August 2017, shortly after it was recovered in New Mexico and returned to the University of Arizona Museum of Art. ©2019 the Willem de Kooning Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


Collaborating on the show is the artist’s foundation. “The Foundation is delighted to collaborate with the Gallerie dell’Accademia to present this important exhibition. The exhibition allows us to share Willem de Kooning and the curators’ exceptional vision with a wide-ranging, diverse international community”, said Amy Schichtel, executive director of the foundation. The exhibit arrives in Italy in early October.



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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.