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The Artist de Kooning Would Have Had A Different View Of The Sea If He Had Grown Up In Galveston, Texas

I’m reading de Kooning—An American Master by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan. This book has told me things relevant to life in the Houston and Galveston area and has told me things relevant to the human experience. 

Willem de Kooning was an artist who lived between 1904 and 1997. I’m up to about 1935 in de Kooning’s life. 

Here are some things of note from the book so far—-

Growing up in Rotterdam, de Kooning saw the sea as a symbol of change and modernity. This was because of the ships at the port and the sailors from exotic places. 

This is in sharp contrast to the sea I know at Galveston, Texas. Galveston is a place that has seen its best days. The main change the ocean would bring to Galveston at this point is destruction in a hurricane.

The authors report that “de Kooning remembered his childhood as one of great loneliness.” 

A lonely childhood is a time when a strong creative imagination can be formed. I bet the time alone helped de Kooning in the long haul.

In 1919 de Kooning’s sister lived in a part of Amsterdam called the Jordaan. This area was known as “… a center of activism and social change in Holland.” I wish every big city in America had such a district. No such area exists in the two cities I know best—Cincinnati and Houston. Houston has many areas dedicated to consumption.

Here is a description of life in New York before air-conditioning—“In the 1920’s and 30’s, when virtually no buildings were air-conditioned, artists and craftsmen in New York often took off much of the summer. Even the regularly employed even took off much of the summer.” 

If it was that way in New York City in the summer, I can imagine how hot it must’ve been in Houston before air-conditioning. I wonder how anything got done in Houston in the summer. 

Any good book has many things to tell us. 

December 22, 2006 Posted by | Art, Best Posts 2006, Books, Galveston, Houston | 3 Comments