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John Elderfield on Willem de Kooning

Phong Bui hosts John Elderfield, Chief Curator Emeritus of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, and his associate curators Jennifer Field, Lauren Mahoney, Delphine Huisinga who assembled the exhibition and catalog for the first true Willem de Kooning retrospective since the artist's death in 1997 (through January 9, 2012) Bringing together nearly 200 works from public and private collections, the exhibition occupies the Museum’s entire sixth-floor gallery space, totaling approximately 17,000 square feet.

We have divided this 90-minute conversation into two sections: In Part 1 the group discusses other de Kooning surveys and museum exhibitions, how this show came about, the incredible period of 1945-51, the artist's relationship to sculpture, influences both implied and embraced, abstraction vs. figurative work, and his technique and medium.

In Part 2 the group turns to de Kooning's relation to other abstract painters, surrealism and cubism, moving into the sixties and beyond, transition from the wrist stroke to the full arm sweep, Franz Kline influence, speed of execution, the clue of the high heels, and the myth of the "Alzheiimer's" paintings among much more.


Off The Rail


Artist, critic, curator, teacher and newspaperman Phong Bui is now taking his insatiable talent to the airwaves. A man with a voracious appetite for all things artistic, social and cultural, Phong's work has been shown at such galleries at Pierogi, Sarah Bowen Gallery, Wooster Art Space and the Brooklyn Museum of Art, winning him numerous awards and grants from the American Academy of Letters, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation and the National Academy, among others. He is a curatorial adviser at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center and has taught at such institutions as Columbia University, Bard College and the School of Visual Arts. He used the money from his first sold painting to create the venerable arts, culture and politics journal The Brooklyn Rail and the publishing press The Brooklyn Rail/Black Square Editions. He is an unstoppable force of unyielding curiosity.

Here Phong interviews artists, curators, booksellers and anyone else he finds notable and interesting on the cultural landscape. Follow his lead; it's always proved impeccable.