This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Views on Art host, Ruth Bowman interviews ARTnews editor, Thomas Hess, about the 1969 Willem de Kooning exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Art critic, Thomas Hess, was a champion for Abstract Expressionism from the very beginning, editing and writing such influential essays as Harold Rosenberg’s “The American Action Painters,” (1952) and his own, “De Kooning Paints a Picture,”(March 1953), both published in ARTnews.
In this interview, Hess talks about his role as the museum’s guest director of the exhibition. He explains de Kooning’s hesitance in having an exhibition at MoMA, due to his belief that the museum “buries its exhibitors under too much formality.” de Kooning is eventually convinced, however, and Hess recounts picking the pieces for the show together, with the aim of presenting the artist and his continuing work through groups and interrelationships. He goes on to describe his reasoning behind the organization of the exhibition and even the lighting, which is designed to correspond to the varied lighting of de Kooning’s own studios. Hess also speaks to the artist’s work and intention - the concept of ‘artist as hero,’ which he believes is exemplified in Willem de Kooning: “He wants to be as great as Michaelangelo, or greater. He wants to hit the jackpot. This is the context in which he works.”
WNYC archives id: 8664