Willem De Kooning Dutch/American, 1904-1997
Willem de Kooning attended Rotterdam Academy of Fine Arts, training in Fine and Commercial Arts. In 1998, the Academy was renamed Willem de Kooning in his honour. The artist moved to the United States in 1926, where he would stay until his death in 1997. De Kooning worked in the mural division of the Works Project Administration (WPA) during the Great Depression. This moment in time is of great importance as his work with the WPA inspired him to become a full-time painter. He was part of the first-generation New York School painters. Other artists that were part of this group were Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko and so forth. Notoriously known for rejecting the accepted stylistic norms of the time, like Cubism and Surrealism. Instead creating new artistic rules that would be labelled as Action Paintings and Abstract Expressionist works. Nevertheless, during de Kooning's career, he moved between figuration and abstraction through various artistic mediums like painting, drawing, print media, and sculpture. De Kooning was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964 and represented the United States at the 25th Biennale di Venezia in 1950. De Kooning's work is represented in many prominent collections around the world, including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery Collection in Buffalo, Cleveland Museum of Art in Cleveland, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Bilbao, Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein in Vaduz, Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Los Angeles, Tokyo, National Gallery of Art in Washington and amongst others.