Unlike his contemporaries Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, de Kooning’s paintings refer to natural forms and specific places or events, pushed into pure abstraction by his reliance on color and the deep build-up of paint to create form. Depth and perspective are subordinated to the flattening effects of his slashing, violent brushwork. Some of the "abstract landscapes" from 1957 to 1963 are based on the landscape around Long Island Sound, including Merritt Parkway, a local highway. Speed is suggested by the controlled thrusts of the brush while the naturalistic palette conveys the crisscross of the road through the landscape.
Artist Willem de Kooning, American, 1904-1997
  • Merritt Parkway
Date 1959
Medium oil on canvas
Dimensions Unframed: 80 × 70 1/2 inches (203.2 × 179.1 cm)
Framed: 81 × 70 7/8 × 2 inches (205.7 × 180 × 5.1 cm)
Credit Line Bequest of W. Hawkins Ferry
Accession Number 1988.177
Department Contemporary Art after 1950
On View Contemporary N220, Level 2 (see map)
Signed Signed, lower left: De Kooning
The artist;
estate of Ira Haupt [died in 1963];
(J. L. Hudson & Co., Detroit, Michigan, USA);
(Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, New York, USA);
W. Hawkins Ferry [1913-1988];
1989-present, bequest to the the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Hess, Thomas B. Willem de Kooning. Great American Artists Series. New York, 1959, pl. 5.

Janis, Harriet and Rudi Blesh. De Kooning. New York, 1960, p.36, pl. K.

Ponente, Nello. Modern Painting, Contemporary Trends. New York, 1960, p. 157 (ill.).

The World in Vogue. New York, 1963, p. 364 (ill.).

Gaugh, Harry F. Willem De Kooning. New York, 1983, p. 64.

The W. Hawkins Ferry Collection. Exh. cat., The Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1987, p. 23 (ill.).

Bulletin of the DIA 65, nos. 2/3 (1989): 50, fig. 32 (ill.).

Elderfield, John, and Lauren Mahony, Jennifer Field, Delphine Huisinga, Susan Lake. De Kooning: a Retrospective. Exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art. New York, 2011, pp. 318-319 (fig. 110).