The Willem de Kooning Foundation will display 10 of the artist's paintings later this year to raise money for research and scholarships, having decided to sell the paintings in what The New York Times calls "a particularly grand way." “Willem de Kooning: Ten Paintings, 1983-1985" will show at the Gagosian Gallery from November 8 to December 21 and, the organization hopes, raise over $30 million.
"I thought it would be particularly interesting to concentrate on just three years — 1983 to ’85 — because the paintings he made then were so radically different,” John Elderfield, the Museum of Modern Art's chief curator, told The Times. Elderfield also organized MoMA's 2011 retrospective of the Abstract Expressionist master who is often considered an equal of Jackson Pollock.
Part of the proceeds from the sale will go towards hiring a team of researchers to compile and publish a catalogue raisonné (a detailed and annotated guide to an artist's works) for de Kooning. The funds would also create an endowment for education, as well as add to the Foundation's work with the Long Island Children’s Museum (de Kooning, like Pollock, lived in the village of Springs, a bucolic part of East Hampton). Galleries are allowed to keep sale amounts private, and while we don't know how much the works will go for, past de Koonings from that period have gone for $4.4 and $9.7 million at auction.
The last time de Kooning work made headlines was late last month, when Michael Altman Fine Art in New York sued Seattle's Pace Gallery over a damaged work. Pace shipped de Kooning's "Untitled IV" to a potential buyer, who found that the packing material had fused onto the canvas, staining it. It's not known what the painting would have sold for, but Altman is suing for $1.2 million to repair the work, which the New York Daily News described as "a sophisticated giant finger painting exercise."
(Image of de Kooning's "Untitled VII" via Associated Press.)
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