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Woman and Bicycle

1952–53

Willem de Kooning, Woman and Bicycle, 1952–53. Oil on canvas, 76 1/2 × 49 in. (194.3 × 124.5 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase  55.35
© 2009 The Willem de Kooning Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Willem de Kooning explored emotion and expression in his work and he is known as an Abstract Expressionist artist. But although many of his paintings are abstract, de Kooning often combined abstraction with recognizable forms such as the female figure. Woman and Bicycle depicts a standing woman, whose body is visible among the brushstrokes, slashes, scrapes, and smears of paint. She has elements of the stylish women that de Kooning would have seen on billboards and in magazines in the early 1950s. She is wearing a tight, low-cut outfit and high heels, fashionable at that time, but not very practical for bike riding.
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Willem de Kooning, Woman and Bicycle, 1952-53

“I’m not interested in ‘abstracting’ or taking things out or reducing painting to design, form, line, and color. I paint this way because I can keep putting more things in it–drama, anger, pain, love, a figure, a horse, my ideas about space. Through your eyes it again becomes an emotion or idea.”

—Willem de Kooning 

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