T his November, Sotheby’s is honored to present de Kooning | Decades: Property from the de Kooning Family Collection, a group of three extraordinary masterworks from three decades of Willem de Kooning’s life and oeuvre.
Each dating from the culmination of a decade, Montauk II (1969), Untitled (c. 1979) and The Hat Upstairs (1987) independently mark transformative moments for Willem de Kooning; together, they reveal the development of the artist’s practice from the late 1960s to the late 1980s, constituting an elegant retrospective across three decades of his acclaimed career.
Metamorphosis: The Willem de Kooning Decades Collection
Within them, we experience de Kooning’s shift from the rolling figurative forms of Montauk II into the sumptuous abstraction of Untitled, which in turn culminates in the refined, calligraphic beauty of The Hat Upstairs. Providing a rare portrait of the artist’s evolution over time, these three paintings are a testament to de Kooning’s incomparable art historical achievements and enduring influence on 20th-century art.
Personally selected by the artist’s daughter, Lisa de Kooning — who recognized each as among the best of her father’s work — and held in the de Kooning Family Collection since their execution, these paintings are utterly unprecedented in not only their provenance, but also their singular rarity, significance and caliber. Marking one of the most exceptional groupings of paintings by de Kooning to ever appear on the market, these three singular masterworks from one of the undisputed titans of 20th-century art will make their auction debut in our Contemporary Art Evening Auction in New York on 16 November 2022.
“These three paintings and our grandfather’s liberated palette were forever present in our lives… For as long as we can remember, Untitled, c. 1979, was referred to affectionately as ‘the Monet’ by our mother. Even as young children, we were captivated by it. It was a window; we had the sea in the studio. In all of these works, there’s a lawlessness moored by intention.”