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Willem de Kooning drew inspiration from Picasso and cubism, expressing a preference for cubism among all art movements. He remarked “Of all movements, I like cubism most.” Picasso's 1929 painting "Large Nude In Red Armchair" ( Figure 1) marked a significant shift in his artistic style towards Surrealism. It is evident that de Kooning's 1945 painting "Pink Angels" (Figure 2) was influenced by Picasso's work, particularly "Large Nude In Red Armchair," which de Kooning had seen at MOMA's 1939 Picasso exhibition.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Just as Picasso's painting "Large Nude In Red Armchair" signaled a turning point in his style, so too did de Kooning's "Pink Angels" mark a pivotal moment in his artistic development. While de Kooning's earlier works were more figurative, "Pink Angels" shows clear influences from Picasso’s "Large Nude In Red Armchair". Similarities can be observed in the composition, with elements like the pink and yellow square trimmed in black in the lower right (Figure 3)

Figure 3

of the de Kooning is very similar to the blue and white square trimmed with orange in the lower left of the Picasso (Figure 4).

Figure 4

The rectangular shape along the right side of the Picasso appears to be a door, corner of a wall or more likely a mirror reflecting the red of the armchair (Figure 5).

Figure 5

Figure 6

A similar device is employed by de Kooning (Figure 6) where the rectangular shape along the right side reflects the pink of the female form to its left.

If you count the dot like marks (depicting body parts) on the Picasso’s female form, there are eight (Figure 7).

Figure 7

I count eight dots in the de Kooning (Figure 8). They may or may not indicate body parts.

Figure 8

The female in the Picasso has an outstretched left arm and a rounded bottom. There is a similar design element in the De Kooning.There is even a hint of green in the de Kooning (Figure 9) that mimics the green

Figure 9

wall in the Picasso painting. While Picasso's painting conveys a sense of torment and anger, likely reflecting his personal life at the time, his dissolving marriage with Olga.  de Kooning's portrayal is more serene. The title "Pink Angels" may have been chosen by de Kooning to divert attention from the comparison with Picasso's work because the figure in the Picasso is far from an angel.

W. K. Johnson


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