Art: Instant Summaries

Elaine de Kooning, the amicably separated wife of the famous Willem de Kooning, is an abstract expressionist to whom portraits "have always been a passion." Her pictures are hardly the sort that a board of directors would buy to put in a frame marked, "Our Founder."

She works in broad strokes, so swiftly that she can finish even a group portrait within a couple of hours. She relies almost as much on pure intuition in portraits as in her abstract expressionist work. "If I paint fast, the painting becomes unconscious, almost as if someone else was doing the painting and I the...

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