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Willem de Kooning

Door to the River

Not on view



Oil on linen

Overall: 80 1/8 × 70 1/8in. (203.5 × 178.1 cm)

Accession number

Credit line
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Friends of the Whitney Museum of American Art

Rights and reproductions
© The Willem de Kooning Foundation/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


In the late 1950s, Willem de Kooning began dividing his time between New York and eastern Long Island, then a rural area. His paintings of this period, as he described them in 1960, reflect the change in his surroundings. “They’re emotions, most of them. Most of them are landscapes and highways and sensations of that, outside the city—with the feeling of going to the city or coming from it.” That same year he painted Door to the River, making his wide brushstrokes with housepainter’s brushes. The broad strokes of pink, yellow, brown, and white form a door-like rectangle in the center of the canvas, beneath which lies a passage of blue, perhaps evoking the river in the title. Floating amid vibrant space, the bold opening implies a sense of majestic other-worldiness. Confidently executed, Door to the River bears neither the marks of continual reworking characteristic of de Kooning’s earlier paintings nor the agitation and coloristic turbulence of his later work.

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