Elaine de Kooning (American, March 12, 1918–February 1, 1989) was a painter, teacher, and editor. She is known for her work both as an Abstract Expressionist and Figurative Expressionist painter. De Kooning was born in Brooklyn, NY, as the oldest of four children. At a young age, de Kooning''s mother taught her how to draw, and frequently took her to museums. De Kooning attended Erasmus Hall High School, and upon graduation briefly attended Hunter College in New York City. In 1937, she studied at the Leonardo da Vinci Art School in Hoboken, NJ, and in 1938, she went back to New York City to attend the American Artists School.

In her mid-20s, de Kooning married fellow artist Willem de Kooning (Dutch/American, April 24, 1904–March 19, 1997). During her marriage, de Kooning continued painting; however, much of her time was devoted to ensuring the success of her husband. In the summer of 1948, de Kooning and her husband left New York for North Carolina so that he could teach at Black Mountain College. At the end of the summer, her husband left North Carolina, and de Kooning stayed behind. During that period at Black Mountain, she created a series of paintings entitled Black Mountain Abstractions. The following year, de Kooning and her husband were part of an exhibition entitled Artists: Man and Wife at the Sidney Janis Gallery, which featured several artist couples. She had her first solo exhibit at the Stable Gallery in 1954. Shortly after, de Kooning and her husband separated until 1975.

De Kooning was highly noted for her ability as a portraitist, even by the White House, who commissioned a portrait of President John F. Kennedy. This resulted in her John F. Kennedy series of paintings, and her most popular Portrait of JFK. In 1983, she went to Northern Spain and Southern France to visit pre-historic caves. De Kooning always had a fascination with the animal form and was interested in seeing what inspiration she could find in the caves. After her excursions, she made several sketches. Upon returning to the United States, de Kooning transferred these sketches into large paintings such as Cave #49, Morning Horses and Cave #54, Sand Wall. De Kooning continued to travel extensively and gain international inspiration. During her artistic career, she also worked as an editorial associate and art critic of Art News magazine, and taught at many universities, including the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, the University of California, Davis, Yale University, the Pratt Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, Wagner College, and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. In the 1980s, de Kooning was diagnosed with lung cancer. Following a surgery to remove one of her lungs, her health began to deteriorate until she succumbed to the disease in 1989.


Born Elaine Marie Fried on March 12, 1918 in New York, Ny
Enrolls at Hunter College, drops out following year.
Begins to attend classes at Leonardo da Vinci Art School, New York, NY
Studies at American Artists School, 1938
Marries Willem de Kooning
Separated from Willem de Kooning, but they never divorced.
Visiting professor, Pennsylvania State University, University Park.
Awarded Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, Moore College of Art, Philadelphia.
Begins two-year professorship at Parsons School of Design, New York.
Artist in residence, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts.
Holds Mellon Chair at Cooper Union, New York
Holds Milton and Sally Avery Chair, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.
Awarded Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, Adelphi University, Garden City, New York.
Awarded Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, The Maryland Institute, College of Art, Baltimore.
Awarded Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, Long Island University, Southampton.
Died in Southampton, NY


New York Cool: Paintings and Sculptures from the NYU Art Collection, Grey Art Gallery, NYU, New York, NY
Pathways and Parallls: Roads to Abstract Expressionism, Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York, NY
A Culture in the Making, Hacket Freedman Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Aspects of Humanity, CCAS, Center for Contemporary Art Sacramento, Sacramento, CA
Black Mountain College, Bridgette Mayer Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
Black Mountain College: Its Time and Place, Asheville Art Museum, Asheville, NC
Starting at Zero: Black Mountain College, 1933-1957, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England
JFK and Art, Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, FL
American Expressionism: Art and Social Change, 1920s - 1950s, Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art, Evanston, IL
Elaine De Kooning, Hackett Freedman Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Elaine de Kooning Portraits, Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, New York, NY
Art & Friendship: Selections from the Roland F. Pease Collection, Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York, NY
Elaine de Kooning Paintings 1955 - 1965, Joan T. Washburn Gallery, New York, NY
Major Paintings, Sculpture & Drawings, Joan T. Washburn Gallery, New York, NY
Washburn Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Gruenebaum Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Gruenebaum Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Phoenix II, Washington, D.C. (solo)
Spectrum Fine Art Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Graham Gallery, New York,NY (solo)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Focus, Philadelphia Museum of Art
American Self-Portraits 1670-1973, National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.
Montclair Art Museum, New Jersey, NJ (solo)
Drew University, New Jersey, NJ (solo)
Graham Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Graham Gallery, New York (solo)
De Aenille Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Holland-Goldowsky Gallery, Chicago (solo)
Howard Wise Gallery, Cleveland (solo)
Tanager Gallery, New York (solo)
Graham Gallery, New York (solo)
Hallmark Art Award Exhibition
Gump's Gallery, New Mexico (solo)
Dord Fitz Gallery, Amarillo, New Mexico (solo)
Lyman Allyn Museum, New London, Connecticut
Younger American Painters, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
University of New Mexico, Albuquerque (solo)
TTibor de Nagy Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
The New York School: The Second Generation, Jewish Museum, New York
The "9th St." Show, Stable Gallery New York, NY
Stable Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
Abstract Expressionism 1900-1955, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (traveling exh.)
Young American Painters, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (traveling exh.)
Stable Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
International Biennial Exhibition of Painting, Tokyo
Stable Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
The "9th St." Show, Stable Gallery, New York, NY
New Talent, Kootz Gallery, New York, NY