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Art and Images in Psychiatry |

Excavation

James C. Harris, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005;62(4):359-360. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.62.4.359.
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Willem de Kooning’s (1904-1997) reputation as a leading Abstract Expressionist was established in the 1940s.1 He had an exceptionally long career and, despite the onset of Alzheimer disease, continued to paint into the 1980s.2 He studied art in Holland and Belgium before stowing away on a ship and coming to the United States in 1926. He initially supported himself as a house painter and commercial artist, only devoting himself to art full time after joining the Work Projects Administration Federal Art Project, part of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal in 1935. He borrowed techniques from the old masters and was influenced by Arshile Gorky, Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondrian, Henri Matisse, and the Surrealists, moving figures and landscapes into abstraction and developing a powerful abstract style. Fundamental themes and motifs in his work bear striking parallels to those of the Dutch painters Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel.3

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Willem de Kooning

(1904-1997), American. Cover: Excavation, 1950. Oil on canvas, 206.2 × 257.3 cm, Mr and Mrs Frank G. Logan Purchase Prize; gift of Mr and Mrs Noah Goldowsky and Edgar Kaufmann, Jr, 1952. Reproduction, The Art Institute of Chicago. Figure appearing in the “Arts and Images in Psychiatry” article: Untitled XIII, 1985. Oil on canvas, 203.2 × 177.8 cm.© The Cleveland Museum of Art, 2003. Leonard C. Hanna, Jr, Fund, 1987. Copyright 2005 The Willem de Kooning Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY.

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Figure.

de Kooning, Untitled XIII, 1985.

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