THERE is a train track in the history of art that goes way back to Mesopotamia," Willem de Kooning once noted, with an artist's lordly disregard for details of engineering. "Duchamp is on it. Cézanne is on it." An imposing retrospective of his work, opening at the Museum of Modern Art this week, demonstrates that De Kooning, still hale and heartily turning out landscapes at 64, has already established his place along that main line.

Conspicuous in the show are 13 examples of his Women of 1950-55. These "bitch goddesses" outraged yet captivated the public taste at the time, perhaps because they...

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