Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Artist of the Week: Elaine Fried de Kooning

 In 1938, Elaine Fried was introduced to a Dutch immigrant artist, Willem de Kooning. She soon began studying with him, and approximately five years later, on December 9, 1943, they married. While her artistic reputation was eclipsed to some degree by his fame, she was able to forge a name as an artist and as a critic They were the typical artist couple in the 1940's, struggling with serious financial hardships while producing tremendously innovative work. By the early 1950's she was producing stylized paintings based on news photographs of sports figures. Elaine Fried de Kooning was also an art critic for Artnews and wrote articles about American Modernist painters.

Elaine Fried de Kooning  had her first solo show in 1952, while subsidizing her income by working as a model. Elaine Fried de Kooning had a diverse and interesting career as an artist. Unlike most women artists of the time Elaine Fried approached art in an ambitious and competitive manner. Her intoxicating vitality made Elaine both challenging and physically fearless.
Elaine Fried de Kooning's most famous series of portraits, painted on commission from the White House, is of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. Elaine Fried de Kooning followed the President, observing him from various standpoints. President Kennedy’s  young daughter, Caroline, copied de Kooning by making her her own small paintings as Elaine was painting the portraits.

Elaine Fried de Kooning traveled to West Palm Beach, Florida, to make painted sketches of Kennedy and spent much of 1963 working on a presidential portrait of him for the Truman Library. Kennedy was assassinated during the creation of this work. His murder impacted her to such a degree that she stopped painting for nearly a year. Elaine Fried de Kooning spent most of this time teaching and doing sculptures.

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