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Portrait of Barbara Poses Kafka

de Kooning, Elaine

Portrait of Barbara Poses Kafka

oil on canvas

1997 Gift of Dr. Gina M. Puzzuoli

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Elaine de Kooning was a noted Abstract Expressionist painter who also produced realist portraits. Her interest in art was encouraged at an early age by her mother who took her to museums and gave her art books. She met Willem de Kooning, a member of the first generation of Abstract Expressionists, at the Leonardo da Vinci Art School in New York. She became his student and five years later, in 1943, she became his wife. Like many women artists of the era, her career was secondary to her husband's career. While promoting his career and writing reviews for art magazines, she continued to develop her own style of painting that combined Abstract Expressionism and realism. Much of her career was devoted to painting portraits, the most famous commission being a portrait of John F. Kennedy which she was painting at the time of his assassination. She painted her subjects with the bold brushwork associated with Abstract Expressionism. In "Portrait of Barbara Poses Kafka", Elaine de Kooning captured the elegance of the sitter and the crispness of her dress through carefully placed, loose brushstrokes.