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Monumental Willem de Kooning painting "Untitled V" to be offered by Sotheby's
Willem de Kooning, Untitled V, 1975, 70 x 80 in, est. $25/35 million. Photo: Sotheby's.
NEW YORK, NY.- On 13 November 2013 Sotheby’s New York will present Untitled V by Willem de Kooning as a major highlight of the Contemporary Art Evening Sale. The work dates from the critical year of 1975 and is the prime example from the watershed period when de Kooning returned to painting after a period in which he focused on sculpture. Having not been seen in public since 1980, Untitled V goes on view for the first time in over 30 years in London on 12 October before the pre-sale exhibition in New York opens on 31 October. The work is estimated to fetch $25/35 million.

Tobias Meyer, Worldwide Head of Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s commented: “The unveiling of Untitled V and the other Fourcade gallery exhibition paintings in the autumn of 1975 marked the renaissance of Willem de Kooning. Today, the force of the work is as powerful and affecting as it was forty years ago.”

Untitled V was part of a group of work which marked a return of the artist to oil painting in 1975. In that critical year he produced a highly renowned series of canvases of explosive colour in just six months which made up the exhibition De Kooning: New Works: Paintings and Sculpture at the Fourcade, Droll gallery in New York. As his dealer, Xavier Fourcade had the pick of the artist’s work and put together a show that was described by the eminent art critic Dore Ashton in enthusiastic terms:

"De Kooning's recent paintings at the Fourcade Gallery absolutely required sustained attention. There could be no quick perception, no general impression that could cover the wealth of experience reflected… In short, he offers a distinct, a unique realm in which imagination prevails.” --- Dore Ashton, “75/76 New York,” Colóquio: Artes, no. 29, October, 1975, p. 14

Untitled V is the extraordinary example of the paintings from the Fourcade gallery exhibition. The staggering variety of its luscious brushstrokes, emphatic mark-making and violent flecks of paint are all conveyed in the brilliant primary hues of an utterly seductive palette. De Kooning’s extraordinary confidence as a colourist is evident from the juxtaposition of serene blues fusing with cool fluid whites, searing reds and yellows all executed in a wide range of strokes from paint-loaded brushes to areas swiped and blended by a palette knife.

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