De Kooning is often called “A painter's painter." Many of my friends love his work. Many find inspiration. Stephen Johnson owns seven books about his work. I own three, plus his biography.
What exactly is de Kooning's relevance to present day painters? His best work was painted in the 1950’s. Shouldn’t we be looking at contemporary artists? Are we drawn not only to de Kooning's work, but to the myth of the Bohemian artist who rejects popular tastes?
The east coast reviews of the new MOMA show about deKooning’s work do not bring any new insight into the artist. In fact, many writers use the familiar quotes of de Kooning:
"I don't paint to live, I live to paint"
"I'd like to get all the colors in the world into one painting".
"I don't paint with ideas of art in mind. I see something that excites me. It becomes my content." (1959)
"Even abstract shapes must have a likeness"
"Flesh was the reason why oil painting was invented"
To help answer my question of relevance, I booked a flight to New York to see the de Kooning exhibit for myself, in person. My hotel is one block away from the MOMA. I will be there in November.