About This Artwork

Willem de Kooning
American, born Netherlands, 1904-1997

Two Women's Torsos, 1952

Pastel and charcoal on ivory wove paper
479 x 610 mm

John H. Wrenn Memorial Collection, 1955.637

© 2018 The Willem de Kooning Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

A pioneer of Abstract Expressionism, Willem de Kooning experimented with the human form throughout his career, which reached its apex in the early 1950s with his celebrated Womanseries. Two Women’s Torsos was created during an intense campaign in which the artist focused on drawings related to his Woman paintings, which were exhibited together with this and other drawings at the Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, in 1953.

De Kooning’s drawings are admired for their number and variety, as well as for the artist’s expressive technique, exemplified here by his gestural use of pastel in concert with charcoal. This drawing’s velvety texture and almost violently animated surface are characteristic of the approximately one hundred sheets that remain from his intense work on the Woman theme in 1952 and 1953. Also typical of de Kooning’s art is the way in which Two Women’s Torsos references aspects of related paintings but stands alone as an independent work. As the artist tried to jettison traditional modes of composition, he used drawing as a primary vehicle for the sequential development of his most important early body of work.

— Entry, Essential Guide, 2013, p. 326.

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