Adam Lindemann wasn’t that impressed with MoMA’s de Kooning show. He explains in his Observer column that the moment seems to have passed and de Kooning is curiously not relevant to the rest of the world. However, Lindemann does think the MoMA show has achieved at least one important milestone:
De Kooning had gone senile by the end of his life, suffering from what we now call Alzheimer’s, but he continued to paint, almost until his death in 1997. Though some say the reduction of his painting style to only a brushstroke or two shows that his assistants did the work, or that he was no longer compus mentis, what do I care? I don’t believe in artist’s personal histories or care how many wives they had or cigarettes they smoked. I look at the work, not the person. To end his life by reducing his painting to only a few sparse brushstrokes was pure poetry, whether he knew it or not. I applaud Mr. Elderfield, who spent six years putting this exhibition together, for dedicating two large viewing rooms to the late work, because though the market for the late paintings has been strong, their credibility was always suspect because of the circumstances of their creation. MoMA’s decision to showcase them is meaningful, and frankly a show of only the late work would have been stronger and fresher than this voluminous “blockbuster.” Years from now that’s all we’ll remember from it: how this was the show that finally gave the late de Koonings permanent credibility.
de Kooning: A Retrospective (MoMA)