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Town Square

Photo: Spike Mafford / Zocalo Studios. Courtesy of the Friday Foundation

Town Square

1948

Willem de Kooning

American, (born The Netherlands), 1904-1997

De Kooning’s remarkable journey began as a stowaway from the Netherlands on a British freighter in 1922. Trained as a painter, he immersed himself in the burgeoning scene of young artists in New York and became one of its most important innovators. “Of all movements I like Cubism most. It had that wonderful unsure atmosphere of reflection—a poetic frame where something could be possible, where an artist could practice his intuition.” His negotiation with the splintered shapes and shallow perspective pioneered in Cubist painting and collage in 1910-12 is evident in Town Square, where an accumulation of biomorphic shapes leads into abstraction. Painted the year de Kooning had his first solo exhibition in New York, Town Square marks a point of visionary innovation and achievement.
Oil on paper mounted on Masonite
17 3/8 × 23 3/4 in. (44.2 × 60.3 cm)
Gift of the Friday Foundation in honor of Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis
2020.14.2
Provenance: The artist; Leo Castelli, New York; Mr. and Mrs. Ben Heller, New York; sold to Jane and Richard E. Lang, Seattle, Washington, 1976; Friday Foundation, Seattle, Washington, 2018; Seattle Art Museum, 2020
Photo: Spike Mafford / Zocalo Studios. Courtesy of the Friday Foundation
location
Not currently on view

Resources

Exhibition HistoryChicago, Illinois, Arts Club of Chicago, Ben Shahn, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Oct. 2 - 27, 1951. Cat. no. 22 [lent by the artist].

East Hampton, New York, Guild Hall, Fourth Annual Invitation Exhibition by Regional Artists, July 24 - Aug. 12, 1952 [lent by Leo Castelli].

Venice, Italy, XXVII Venice Biennale, United States Pavilion, 2 Pitorri: de Kooning, Shanh; 3 Scultori: Lachaise, Lassaw, Smith, June 19 - Oct. 17, 1954, organized by the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Cat. no. 65, p. 395 (as La piazza della città).

New York, New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, The Museum and Its Friends: Eighteen Living American Artists Selected by the Friends of the Whitney Museum, Mar. 5 - Apr. 12, 1959. No cat. no., p. 47 (as Village Square, lent by Leo Castelli).

Cleveland, Ohio, Cleveland Museum of Art, Paths of Abstract Art, Oct. 5 - Nov. 13, 1960. Cat. no. 94, reproduced (as Village Square).

The Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Ben Heller, organized by the Museum of Modern Art, New York (Chicago, Illinois, Art Institute of Chicago [as The Ben Heller Collection of Paintings of the School of New York], Sept. 22 - Oct. 22, 1961; Baltimore, Maryland, Baltimore Museum of Art, Dec. 3 - 31, 1961; Cincinnati, Ohio, Contemporary Arts Center, Jan. 22 - Feb. 25, 1962; Cleveland, Ohio, Cleveland Museum of Art, Mar. 13 - Apr. 10, 1962; San Francisco, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Apr. 30 - June 3, 1962; Portland, Oregon, Portland Art Museum, June 15 - July 22, 1962; Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Sept. 5 - Oct. 14, 1962). No cat. no., reproduced (as Village Square).

Willem de Kooning, organized by the Museum of Modern Art, New York (Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Stedelijk Museum, Sept. 19 - Nov. 19, 1968; London, England, Tate Gallery, Dec. 5, 1968 - Jan. 26, 1969; New York, Museum of Modern Art, Mar. 5 - Apr. 26, 1969; Art Institute of Chicago, May 17 - July 6, 1969; Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, July 29 - Sept. 14, 1969). Cat. no. 34, pp. 62-63, reproduced.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, Willem de Kooning, Pittsburgh International Series, Oct. 26, 1979 - Jan. 6, 1980; cat. no. 10, p. 41, reproduced (award shared with Eduardo Chillida).

New York, New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Willem de Kooning: Drawings, Paintings, Sculpture, Dec. 7, 1983 - Feb. 26, 1984 (Berlin, Germany, Akademie der Kunste; Paris, France, Musée National d’Art Moderne) [Town Square shown in New York only]. Cat no. 169, reproduced p. 166.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, The Richard and Jane Lang Collection, Feb. 2 - Apr. 1, 1984. Cat. no. 5, pp. 17-18, reproduced.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Willem de Kooning in Seattle: Selected Works from 1943 to 1985 in Public and Private Collections, Nov. 2, 1995 - Mar. 3, 1996. No cat. no., reproduced (as Townsquare).

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, SAM at 75: Building a Collection for Seattle, May 5 - Sept. 9, 2007.

New York, New York, Museum of Modern Art, Willem de Kooning: A Retrospective, Sept. 18, 2011 - Jan. 9, 2012. No cat. no., reproduced pp. 209, 244, figs. 1 and 9.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Frisson: The Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Collection, Oct. 15, 2021 - Nov. 27, 2022. Text by John Elderfield. No cat. no., pp. 22, 33, 58-65, 59, 188, reproduced pp. 8 (detail), 50, 59 (pl. 2).

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Reverberations: Contemporary Art and Modern Classics, Dec. 22, 2022 - ongoing.
Published ReferencesA Community of Collectors: 75th Anniversary Gifts to the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle: Seattle Art Museum and University of Washington Press, 2008. Reproduced p. 36.

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