Art: The Painter as Draftsman

That sly, unpredictable and difficult old Dutch master of abstract expressionism, Willem de Kooning, turned 70 this year. Ever since the '40s it has been De Kooning's fate, as Harold Rosenberg once observed, to be considered in decline; almost every change in his art, from the Women series of 1951 to the gnarled, glowering bronze figures that occupy him now, has been greeted as a retreat from some previous aesthetic win. Embracing contradictions, De Kooning refuses to be typecast. "I think," he declared in 1949, "it is the most bourgeois idea to think...

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