“I don’t like painting pretty people. I like painting ugly people. They’re more joyous.”
--Willem de Kooning

“I have been reading about the reactions of many in the black communities to the Emmett Till painting by Dana Schutz.
Personally, as a white woman, I did not see commentary on black trauma, but commentary on white responsibility. Rubbing the unjust and brutal death of a young boy in the faces of white establishment.
When I look at Woman 1 I "get" the outrage that I read in many of the black writers concerning that painting. I feel outrage when I see this painting. On the screen and in person.

I don't know his motivation. Maybe he blamed women or a woman for his demons and alcoholism. Surely this was prior to any dementia.
I just know that when I have been in the room with this painting it felt disloyal to look at it. It felt voyeuristic, like taking perverse pleasure in looking at the carnage of a wreck, or looking at a naked rape victim and not offering her a coat to cover up. To get WAY too personal, it felt like I was in the presence of evil.

Untitled 1876 also makes my skin crawl.”

SO, anybody want to touch on misogyny?gwen mehargWeek 3 · 4 months ago

Grow an ovary. Being hurt is a cheap way to get grades these days. Bill de Koo (as I’ve heard his friends knew him as) was not a frothing-mouthed misogynist, as more of a lover of her inner beauty. He was a Nice Guy, from all reports. Who knows, maybe he felt a lot of guilt about the way women were portrayed in the media at the time…certainly, he was known to have studied women’s lips in advertising, before painting the toothy lady you see. A lot  of thought went into Her. MOMA claims he was trying to point up the dichotomy in Western art, between women being worthy of worship or fear.

I really don’t see it that way, if only because I’ve seen  Her. She’s not pretty. She’s not rich. She’s not obsessively healthy. (She drinks, smokes, and thinks  “clean food” is something that comes out of a hygienically sealed factory in the Midwest.) She's not a glamour girl. She's a giant.

When I was about ten, my parents knew a very successful sex worker. (She couldn’t have made that much as a cocktail waitress.)Her name was Gail. And she was not conventionally pretty. But she was beautiful. She had two children one freckled, one brownish. She was smart. (Look, she turned me on to the Durrell family, how hip is that?) She had an apartment that was half Bordello Classique, half Playboy Mansion.   I saw Apollo 11 land on the Moon there.I loved going to her place inordinately, if only because I could have chocolate milk any time I wanted, when my own family considered it a treat. She was big and wild and bodacious, and owned her own Boston Whaler that had gone through more rough water than most of us..  And she looked like Her.  

So, here’s to Bill’s Woman, with her big boobs and killer smile. She’s got her ciggies  and her G&T, and her lap to hold children or clients, as it happens. She’s the Mom I wish I could have have, if only because I’d emerge with my head on straight. OK?

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