The New Jersey Roots of Willem de Kooning

de Kooning's "Woman V."

Over at NJ.com, a series of articles is tracing the Jersey roots of Alexander Calder, Willem de Kooning and Alfred Stieglitz. The de Kooning installment was published today and it’s a nice new perspective on the artist–who has had a voluminous amount of material written about him in 2011 after his massive retrospective at MoMA.

With the help of the classic artist biography, de Kooning: An American Master, the writer traces the painter’s voyage from his home in Holland to a port in Virginia using borrowed money from his estranged father:

“The voyage is long and brutal. He hides out in the hot, dungeon-like spaces of the engine room. Arriving in Virginia, he is smuggled onto a small vessel to Boston and then makes his way, assisted by friends, to New York via rail and boat.

Finally, concluding the long stowaway circle, de Kooning takes a ferry from Manhattan to Hoboken, where he enters the Holland Seaman’s Home at 332 River St. The house, a residential haven for Dutch sailors and longshoremen, provides de Kooning with shelter.

For more than a year, Hoboken is his first home in America. Speaking no English, he is hired as a Hoboken house painter—an occupation he relishes for its decent pay and painting techniques.”

From there, it was a quick trip to New York, where de Kooning began to paint seriously. Read the rest of the article here.

The New Jersey Roots of Willem de Kooning