Where is Willem deKooning's place in art history? Is Willem deKooning under-represented in art? These were topics of two lectures and a panel discussion at the November de Kooning symposium at the MOMA in New York.
The work of Willem deKooning is hard to pin down into a signature style. This makes it difficult to put deKooning into an art historical context because a sole paragraph in an art history survey would not be complete. There is no easy style cliche for deKooning. Pollack is '"the drip guy" and Mondrian is " the squares guy." DeKooning worked in many different styles. There may be a variety of interpretations within the same work. His subject matter changes, including representational and abstraction. His influences include classical Renaissance artists and pop culture. Works include elements of sorrow as well as humor. To put it into pictoral terms, it is difficult to hold an image of a duck AND an image of a rabbit in our head.
However, the real question should not be where deKooning fits in art history, but rather why should we care? Although inconvenient, William deKooning's work may be elusive. But that is not a bad thing. A little complextity is, of course, is what makes his work so intriguing.