Willem de Kooning’s Italy

Featured image: Willem de Kooning, “Screams of Children Come from Seagulls (Untitled XX)” (1975), oil on canvas, 77 x 88 inches; Glenstone Museum, Potomac, Maryland (© 2024 The Willem de Kooning Foundation, SIAE)

VENICE — The press conference to celebrate this spasmodic retrospective of Willem de Kooning — about his four-decades-long encounter with Italy and all things Italian, and comprising 75 works — takes place in the Grande Sala of the Accademia, against a backdrop of one of the finest and widest paintings of the Italian Renaissance, Paolo Veronese’s “Feast in the House of Levi” (1573).

Is this a religious painting or not? Jesus sits centrally at a table almost as broad as the painting itself, as if presiding over an event called The Last Supper, soon to be rendered poignantly meaningful for millennia to come by his own crucifixion.

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