Art: Painting's Vocabulary Builder

A founder of abstract expressionism honored at the Whitney

Willem de Kooning will be 80 in April. To have reached such an age, still bravely painting, is to have outlived all one's enemies and most of one's friends; by now his reputation can hardly be diminished, which may be why the Whitney Museum has had no choice but to enlarge it a little more. If de Kooning is not quite an American Picasso, at least he has been in every art history book, and in the mind of every artist, for the past 30 years....

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