Object Image

Elaine de Kooning, 1918–1989 | Willem de Kooning, 1904–1997

The development of Abstract Expressionism owed much to the freewheeling atmosphere of the Eighth Street Club, established in New York City in 1949 as a place for artists to socialize and discuss art. The painters Elaine and Willem de Kooning were both members and contributed to the Club’s groundbreaking 1951 exhibition, which brought attention to this new generation of avant-garde artists, known as the New York School.

Elaine de Kooning was among the few women included in this male-dominated milieu. Although she was overshadowed by her more famous husband throughout her career, her admiration for his work—and his harsh criticism of hers—fueled her determination to succeed.

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Gelatin silver print