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Willem de Maestro

MoMA gives de Kooning his due.

Oct 31, 2011, Vol. 17, No. 07 • By DANIEL GELERNTER
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The end of de Kooning’s career has always given curators trouble, but Elderfield handles it superbly. In the mid-eighties (1984 was a tipping point), symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease became acute. De Kooning’s paintings began to empty out—ribbons of color cut across large swaths of smooth white. He painted with increasing difficulty and with the aid of studio assistants. In 1989 he was ruled mentally incompetent; in 1990 he stopped painting, although he lived until 1997. Elderfield cuts off the retrospective at 1987, the last year de Kooning’s work could be considered fully realized. The final paintings are spare, graceful, serenely beautiful.

Daniel Gelernter, an artist and art dealer in New York, represents his and his father’s work at

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