Willem de Kooning / Zao Wou-Ki
Lévy Gorvy, New York
January 19 - March 11, 2017
With Willem de Kooning | Zao Wou-Ki, Lévy Gorvy presented the first exhibition to pair the abstract landscapes of Chinese-French master Zao Wou-Ki (1920–2013) and the works of Dutch-born American titan Willem de Kooning (1904–1997). With the full support of the Willem de Kooning Foundation and the Fondation Zao Wou-Ki, this exhibition inaugurated the partnership of Dominique Lévy and Brett Gorvy. It was the first presentation in their gallery’s expanded space at 909 Madison Avenue.
Although contemporaries, the two postwar painters never met. The exhibition at Lévy Gorvy marked the first time a gallery presented their work together. With a selection of over twenty paintings spanning the late 1940s through the early 1980s, Willem de Kooning | Zao Wou-Ki bridged an East-West dialogue, placing the two artists in conversation through their work. De Kooning’s Sail Cloth and Zao’s Untitled, both created in 1949, opened the exhibition and indelibly illuminated ways in which issues of surface, representation, depth, and coloration similarly preoccupied both artists throughout their careers. Seminal large-scale canvases—including such key museum loans as Zao’s Montagne déchirée (1955–56) from the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and De Kooning’s Untitled (1962) from the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC—were on view. Side-by-side juxtapositions reveal striking affinities between the two artists, suggesting previously unrecognized connections between how De Kooning and Zao addressed composition and motif to achieve breakthroughs relevant to contemporary painting.