In the Museum of Modern Art, I chose to compare... Kooning, “Women I,” and Pablo Picasso “Girl before a Mirror.”... Alexarae Vega

Alexarae Vega
Art in the 20th century
Museum Paper #2
Jean Boggs
June 4,2009
In the Museum of Modern Art, I chose to compare and contrast Willem de
Kooning, “Women I,” and Pablo Picasso “Girl before a Mirror.” I will focus on the
depiction of women and sexuality in the works of art.
I located Willem de Kooning’s, “Women I” in the Painting and Sculpture section,
in the: The Maja Oeri and Hans Bodenmann Gallery, Gallery 19. This painting was
created from 1950-1952. This is an Abstract Expressionism painting. These paintings
exhibit abstract expressionism through the spontaneous expressions.
Pablo Picasso’s painting of “Girl before a Mirror,” was found in the Painting and
Sculpture section, in Gallery 12. This painting was created in March 1932. This image
exhibits abstractionism through geometric forms.
“Women I,” depicts action, “…action stands for the particular physical
involvement which characterizes the work1.” This piece illustrates an image dense and
full of activity. This painting is a series of six woman paintings, “Woman I,” is the largest
piece. “…Woman I reflects the age-old cultural ambivalence between reverence for and
fear of the power of the feminine.2” The color confirms this thought through the schemes
he selected. De Kooning selected dark schemes for the figure and vibrant schemes for the
background. His selection allows the figure to stand out.
Picasso displays a young mistress in the “Girl before a Mirror,” named
MarieThérèse Walter. “It is a curious painting visually… the anatomy is broken apart and
separated.3” The mirror reflects two different images and view of Marie. The left side
demonstrates Marie as a woman of beauty. The frontal view of her face appears roughly
painted and carnival like with the vibrant colors on her face. The figure in the mirror, “a
different image appears; the figure seems sorrowful, expressionistic…4.” This painting
overall suggest Marie developing into a woman and her recognizing and understanding
De Kooning’s depiction of women is very interesting; he exhibits a large figure,
displaying a number of organic patterns and shapes. For example, the center of the figure,
the gray paint application is rubbed and there are other vibrant colors that bleed out in
layers and the surrounding. This image demonstrates sexuality through the stance and the
main focus being on her breasts.
Museum of Modern Art AUDIO #405
Museum of Modern Art AUDIO #514
Museum of Modern Art AUDIO #514
Picasso displays women in two unique ways: first displaying women with clarity,
then women expressionistic and distorted. Showing youth and carnival like by d beauty.
He then exhibits the woman as someone who is sorrowful. He exhibits this emotion
through his color schemes and the expression in her face.
De Kooning and Picasso’s display of women are different from one another. De
Kooning demonstration of a woman in his painting is very large, abstract, non-realistic,
and animal like through the color and brush strokes used to create this image. He uses
very thick and curved lines that provide a distinct look to the figure. Picasso exhibits
women in an abstract form using many shapes and lines. Both of these artist display
women in an abstract and non-realistic manner through interesting brush strokes and
color schemes chosen. Picasso’s brush strokes appear geometric and curved. This image
exhibits sexuality through the female figure. She’s looking at herself in the mirror
realizing that she is developing into a woman.
“Women I,” displays a sense of sexuality through the eyes. It’s almost threatening
to look at. The eyes are bulging, the teeth are sharp, and the figure is very large and
monstrous. MOMA confirms my view when it states“ the hulking, wild–eyed subject
draws upon an amalgam of female archetypes, from Paleolithic fertility goddesses to
contemporary pin–up girls5.” The teeth of the image also gives off a sense of sexuality of
apperaing defined and sharp as shark teeth.
In Picasso’s piece, sexuality is depicted through the women on the left, she
appears pregnant and someone of beauty. The image depicts definition and expression of
becoming a woman and branching out.
De Kooning’s display of sexuality is very different and similar when compared to
Picasso. Kooning demonstrates sexuality through animal and primal features;
specifically through the large eyes and teeth. Whereas Picasso exhibits sexuality through
his demonstration of revealing a person’s inner self. For example, the image on the left
appeared pregnant and eloquent, someone who is very beautiful and sexual through its
appearance. Picasso also displays women similar to De Kooning’s work; the image in the
mirror, “Her face is darkened, her eyes are round and hollow, and her intensely feminine
body is twisted and contorted.6” Kooning shows his painting with “Her threatening stare
and ferocious grin are heightened by de Kooning's aggressive brushwork and frantic paint
application7” Both of these paintings exhibit thought provking images.
The depiction of women and sexuality in the works of De Kooning and Picasso’s
painting demonstrates abstract expressionism through their individual style . Each
artwork display women in an interesting way through the different brush strokes and
color schemes. De kooning’s overall painting is intreseting, his approach and display of
this woman. Picasso’s image is interesting through his display of the females face. While
each artist expresses himself differently, there is no doubt the depiction of women and
sexuality is evident in the works.