- Gallery Text
Trained as a commercial artist, de Kooning moved easily between figurative and abstract modes. Though his later canvases would come to epitomize the vigorous gestural style of the abstract expressionist movement, his early work reveals the influence of Joan Miró’s biomorphic, surrealist works. In the 1930s, as this work demonstrates, de Kooning began to paint more sparely, depicting fewer elements dispersed over fields of color. This approach is also evident in the studies he made for the mural division of the Federal Art Project, where he worked with other artists who would dominate the avant-garde at mid-century in America. The suggestive forms that emerge from de Kooning’s organic abstraction, like the inkblots of a Rorschach test, may have inspired the painting’s playful title, pulled from a well-known children’s nonsense rhyme.
- Identification and Creation
- Object Number
Willem de Kooning, American (Rotterdam, Netherlands 1904 - 1997 East Hampton, NY)
- Untitled (The Cow Jumps Over the Moon)
- Work Type
Level 1, Room 1310, Modern and Contemporary Art, Surrealism
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- Physical Descriptions
- Oil on masonite
- 52 x 93 cm (20 1/2 x 36 5/8 in.)
frame: 71 x 112 x 5 cm (27 15/16 x 44 1/8 x 1 15/16 in.)
- Inscriptions and Marks
- Signed: l.r.: de Kooning
- (not assigned): No opportunity to inspect back as yet.
- Willem de Kooning; to Martin Craig, New York, New York, (c. 1938 - 1958), sold; to Dr. and Mrs. Joseph Coltrera, Brooklyn, New York (through [Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York, New York]), sold; to Harvard University Art Museums, 2007.
NOTE: Per a letter in the curatorial file the work was a trade between de Kooning and Martin Craig.
- Acquisition and Rights
- Credit Line
- Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Dr. Ernest G. Stillman, Class of 1907, by exchange
- © The Willem de Kooning Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
- Accession Year
- Object Number
- Modern and Contemporary Art
- Publication History
Willem de Kooning: Garden in Delft, exh. cat., Mitchell-Innes & Nash (2004), pp. 13-14, repr. p. 25 (plate 2), pp. 26-27 (detail)
Willem de Kooning, exh. cat., BA-CV Kunstforum (Vienna, 2005), p. 45, 49, cat. 1, ill. p. 44
Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums Annual Report 2006-7 (Cambridge, MA, 2008), p. 21, ill.
Terry Winters, Depth Charge: Terry Winters Talks with John Elderfield about De Kooning, Artforum (New York, 2011), XLIX, No. 10, pp. 328-335, p. 330, ill.
John Elderfield and Lauren Mahony, de Kooning: A Retrospective, exh. cat., ed. David Frankel, The Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY, 2011), pp. 109, 113, 115-116, cat. 28, pl. 28, ill.
- Exhibition History
De Kooning: A Retrospective, Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York, 09/18/2011 - 01/09/2012
32Q: 1310 Surrealism, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/01/2014
- Subjects and Contexts
- Verification Level
3 - Good. Object is well described and information is vetted