April 24, On This Day
One of the best known artists of the 20th century
Born on April 24, 1904, Willem de Kooning lived through almost all of the 20th century, of which he is one of the best-known artists. The Dutch-American abstract expressionist artist was a peer of Elaine de Kooning (his wife, née Elaine Fried), Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Franz Kline, Arshile Gorky, Mark Rothko, Hans Hofmann, Nell Blaine, Adolph Gottlieb, Anne Ryan, Robert Motherwell, Philip Guston, Clyfford Still, and Richard Pousette-Dart — or the New York School. In the years after World War II, de Kooning painted in a style that came to be referred to as abstract expressionism or “action painting”. De Kooning’s paintings of the 1930s and early 1940s are abstract still-lifes characterised by geometric or biomorphic shapes and strong colours. His well-known Woman series, begun in 1950 and culminating in Woman VI, owes much to Picasso.
The avant-garde artist from Moscow
Also born on this day but in the 19th century (aka on April 24, 1889) Lyubov Popova was a Russian avant-garde artist (Cubist, Suprematist and Constructivist), painter and designer. Ancient Russian icons, the paintings of Giotto, and the works of the 15th- and 16th-century Italian painters interested her the most. Popova was one of the first female pioneers in Cubo-Futurism. Through a synthesis of styles she worked towards what she termed painterly architectonics, after some early explorations of Impressionism. In 1916, she joined the Supremus group with Kazimir Malevich, the founder of Suprematism, referring to a ‘non-objective’ or abstract world beyond that of everyday reality. From 1921 to 1924 Popova became entirely involved in Constructivist projects. She died at the peak of her artistic powers two days after the death of her son, from whom she had contracted scarlet fever in 1924 in Moscow.
Calligraphy in abstract art
Although the motives for his compositions differ philosophically from most Abstract Expressionist painters, his densely structured compositions, inspired by Asian calligraphy, resemble the former’s products. American painter Mark George Tobey, who was born in 1890, died 45 years ago from today, on April 24, 1976. Tobey was an incessant traveler, visiting Mexico, Europe, Palestine, Israel, Turkey, Lebanon, China and Japan. After converting to the Baháʼí Faith, it became an important part of his life. It is reported by some that Tobey’s precursor to all-over paintings — marked by oriental brushwork and calligraphic strokes — were an influence on Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings. Tobey is most noted for his late “white writing” style, where an overlay of white or light-colored calligraphic brush strokes is painted over an abstract field of muted color, which is itself composed of small, interwoven brush strokes.