September 10th, 2011
Willem de Kooning (American, born in the Netherlands, 1904-1997)
The Cat’s Meow, 1987, oil on canvas
Joy, joy joy. I respond right away to the rhythms of this, the open spaces, the subtleties of warm hue — much more so than the savage murky-colored gouge-work of earlier de Kooning. I love the allotment of color across the canvas, the magenta working into the red, the smudged & slightly anemic blue of the sky, the mixed feelings the linework gives me of nervy squiggle and dance. A few things for me nudge this piece toward a kind of thrill of unease (which makes me love the piece even more): the wide open caffeinated eyeball on the top left for instance, and the biomorphic disarray.
I’m reminded of Debussy’s stated desire to write music “whose form was so free it would sound improvised” — to me “The Cat’s Meow” triumphantly delivers the visual equivalent, communicating both raw improvisation and the sense of thoughtful composition at the same time.
For more de Kooning, check out this great article over at Art Market Monitor.