THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 15 Willem de Kooning (Part B)


The Longest Ride Movie CLIP – Bull Riding Lesson (2015) – Britt Robertson, Scott Eastwood Movie HD


Scott Eastwood Interview – The Longest Ride

The Longest Ride Official Trailer #1 (2015) – Britt Robertson Movie HD

My first post in this series was on the composer John Cage and my second post was on Susan Weil and Robert Rauschenberg who were good friend of CageThe third post in this series was on Jorge Fick. Earlier we noted that  Fick was a student at Black Mountain College and an artist that lived in New York and he lent a suit to the famous poet Dylan Thomas and Thomas died in that suit.

The fourth post in this series is on the artist  Xanti Schawinsky and he had a great influence on John Cage who  later taught at Black Mountain College. Schawinsky taught at Black Mountain College from 1936-1938 and Cage right after World War II. In the fifth post I discuss David Weinrib and his wife Karen Karnes who were good friends with John Cage and they all lived in the same community. In the 6th post I focus on Vera B. William and she attended Black Mountain College where she met her first husband Paul and they later  co-founded the Gate Hill Cooperative Community and Vera served as a teacher for the community from 1953-70. John Cage and several others from Black Mountain College also lived in the Community with them during the 1950’s. In the 7th post I look at the life and work of M.C.Richards who also was part of the Gate Hill Cooperative Community and Black Mountain College.

In the 8th post I look at book the life of   Anni Albers who is  perhaps the best known textile artist of the 20th century and at Paul Klee who was one  of her teachers at Bauhaus. In the 9th post the experience of Bill Treichler in the years of 1947-1949  is examined at Black Mountain College. In 1988, Martha and Bill started The Crooked Lake Review, a local history journal and Bill passed away in 2008 at age 84.

In the 10th post I look at the art of Irwin Kremen who studied at Black Mountain College in 1946-47 and there Kremen spent his time focused on writing and the literature classes given by the poet M. C. Richards. In the 11th post I discuss the fact that Josef Albers led the procession of dozens of Bauhaus faculty and students to Black Mountain.

In the 12th post I feature Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) who was featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE and the film showed Kandinsky teaching at BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE which was not true according to my research. Evidently he was invited but he had to decline because of his busy schedule but many of his associates at BRAUHAUS did teach there. In the 13th post I look at the writings of the communist Charles Perrow. 

Willem de Kooning was such a major figure in the art world and because of that I have dedicated the 14th15th and 16th posts in this series on him. Paul McCartney got interested in art through his friendship with Willem because Linda’s father had him as a client. Willem was a  part of New York School of Abstract expressionism or Action painting, others included Jackson Pollock, Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Franz Kline, Arshile Gorky, Mark Rothko, Hans Hofmann, Adolph Gottlieb, Anne Ryan, Robert Motherwell, Philip Guston, Clyfford Still, and Richard Pousette-Dart.

PBS Show on Black Mountain College:

Black Mountain College

For a short time in the middle of the twentieth century a small town in North Carolina became a hub of American cultural production. The town was Black Mountain and the reason was Black Mountain College. Founded in 1933, the school was a reaction to the more traditional schools of the time. At its core was the assumption that a strong liberal and fine arts education must happen simultaneously inside and outside the classroom. Combining communal living with an informal class structure, Black Mountain created an environment conducive to the interdisciplinary work that was to revolutionize the arts and sciences of its time.Among Black Mountain’s first professors were the artists Josef and Anni Albers, who had fled Nazi Germany after the closing of the Bauhaus. It was their progressive work in painting and textiles that first attracted students from around the country. Once there, however, students and faculty alike realized that Black Mountain College was one of the few schools sincerely dedicated to educational and artistic experimentation. By the forties, Black Mountain’s faculty included some of the greatest artists and thinkers of its time: Walter Gropius, Jacob Lawrence, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, John Cage, Alfred Kazin, Merce Cunningham, and Paul Goodman. Students found themselves at the locus of such wide ranging innovations as Buckminster Fuller‘s Geodesic Dome, Charles Olson’s Projective Verse, and some of the first performance art in the U.S.By the late 40s, word of what was happening in North Carolina had started to spread throughout the country. With a Board of Directors that included William Carlos Williams and Albert Einsteinand impressive programs in poetry and photography, Black Mountain had become the ideal of American experimental education. Its concentration on cross-genre arts education would influence the programs of many major American institutions.In 1953, as many of the students and faculty left for San Francisco and New York, those still at Black Mountain saw the shift in interest and knew the school had run its course. Black Mountain had existed on its own terms, and on its own terms had succeeded in expanding the possibilities of American education. Realizing that they had essentially achieved their goals, they closed their doors forever. Black Mountain’s legacy continued however, with former students such as painter Robert Rauschenberg, publisher Jonathan Williams, and poet John Wieners bringing the revolutionary spirit of their alma mater to the forefront of a number of other cultural movements and institutions.



Great article 

Willem de Kooning Life and Art Periods

“I’m not interested in ‘abstracting’ or taking things out or reducing painting to design, form, line, and color. I paint this way because I can keep putting more things in it – drama, anger, pain, love, a figure, a horse, my ideas about space. Through your eyes it again becomes an emotion or idea.”


After Jackson Pollock, de Kooning was the most prominent and celebrated of theAbstract Expressionist painters. His pictures typify the vigorous gestural style of the movement and he, perhaps, did more than any of his contemporaries to develop a radically abstract style of painting that fused Cubism, Surrealism and Expressionism. Although he established his reputation with a series of entirely abstract pictures, he felt a strong pull towards traditional subjects and would eventually become most famous for his pictures of women, which he painted in spells throughout his life. Later he turned to landscapes, which were also highly acclaimed, and which he continued to paint even into his eighties, when his mind was significantly impaired by Alzheimer’s disease.


De Kooning strongly opposed the restrictions imposed by naming movements and, while generally considered to be an Abstract Expressionist, he never fully abandoned the depiction of the human figure. His paintings of women feature a unique blend of gestural abstraction and figuration. Heavily influenced by the Cubism of Picasso, de Kooning became a master at ambiguously blending figure and ground in his pictures while dismembering, re-assembling and distorting his figures in the process.
Although known for continually reworking his canvases, de Kooning often left them with a sense of dynamic incompletion, as if the forms were still in the process of moving and settling and coming into definition. In this sense his paintings exemplify ‘action painting’ – they are like records of a violent encounter, rather than finished works in the old Beaux Arts tradition of fine painting.
Although he came to embody the popular image of the macho, hard-drinking artist – and his most famous Women series seems painted with angry vigor – de Kooning approached his art with careful thought and was considered one of the most knowledgeable among the artists associated with the New York School. He is thought to possessed the greatest facility and polished techniques of painters in the New York School, one that compares to that of Old Masters, and he looked to the likes of Ingres, Rubens and Rembrandt for inspiration.

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Seated Woman (1940)
Seated Woman was de Kooning’s first major painting of a woman, and it evolved, curiously, out of a commission for a slightly earlier picture, Portrait of a Woman (c.1940). The artist seems to have held on to the commissioned portrait and started to use it to develop new pictures. The earlier work was shaped in part by contemporary images of women in magazines and by de Kooning’s wife Elaine who had even stood in as a model when the portrait’s subject was not available. These factors surely encouraged de Kooning to see the possibilities of using a ‘portrait’ to represent womankind in general, rather than a specific individual. Seated Woman was also undoubtedly influenced by Arshile Gorky, in particular the figurative The Artist and his Mother, which Gorky worked on for almost fifteen years after 1926.
Oil and charcoal on masonite – The Philadelphia Museum of Art


Childhood / Early Training

Born in Rotterdam in the Netherlands in 1904, Willem de Kooning was raised mostly by his mother, who owned a bar, after his parents divorced when he was three. He found his vocation early and left school when he was twelve to apprentice at a commercial design and decorating firm. He also studied at Rotterdam Academy of Fine Arts and Techniques. During this period, he became interested in Jugendstil, the German variant of Art Nouveau, and its organic forms were significant in shaping his early style. However, he was soon distracted by the ascendant Dutch movement De Stijl, becoming particularly interested in its emphasis on purity of color and form, and its conception of the artist as a master craftsman.

After living for a year in Belgium in 1924, de Kooning returned to Rotterdam before travelling as a stowaway to the United States, arriving in Virginia in August 1926. He worked his way to Boston on a coal ship, then worked as a house painter in Hoboken, New Jersey before moving across the Hudson to Manhattan. There he took jobs in commercial art, designed window displays and produced fashion advertisements, work which would consume him for several years. De Kooning was still unable to devote himself to the art he loved, but he found the community of artists in New York too valuable to leave behind; when offered a salaried job in Philadelphia, he remarked that he would rather be poor in New York than rich in Philadelphia.

Willem de Kooning Biography

Several artists proved important for his development in those early years. He valued the example of Stuart Davis’ urbane modernism, as well as John Graham’s ideas, but Arshile Gorky was to be the biggest stylistic influence on de Kooning – “I met a lot of artists,” he once said, “but then I met Gorky.” Gorky had spent years working through Picasso’s Cubism and then Miró’s Surrealism before reaching his own mature style, and in subsequent years, de Kooning would follow a similar path: he was impressed by two major exhibitions he saw at MoMA in 1936, “Cubism and Abstract Art” and “Fantastic Art, Dada, and Surrealism,” and he was powerfully influenced by a Picassoretrospective that was staged at the same museum in 1939.

De Kooning worked on projects for the WPA mural division from 1935-37, and for the first time he was able to focus entirely on fine art instead of commercial painting. His network expanded to include Harold Rosenberg, the art critic who later heralded him as a leader of action painting. And in 1936 he was included in the show New Horizons in American Art at MoMA. Men were often the subjects of his pictures in this period, and although they are often traditionally posed, the bodies of figures such as The Glazier (c.1940) were radically distorted and the planes flattened. De Kooning often struggled with certain details in his portraits – hair, hands and shoulders – and this encouraged a habit of scraping back and reworking areas of his pictures, which left them with the appearance of being unfinished. He also painted highly abstract pictures during this time, and these, such as The Wave (c.1942-44), are characterized by flat, biomorphic forms similar to those which had first attracted the young artist to Jugendstil.

Willem de Kooning Photo

In 1938, de Kooning took on Elaine Fried as an apprentice; she became his wife in 1943, and in time she would become a prominent Abstract Expressionist in her own right. The two shared a tempestuous, alcohol-fueled relationship, one which was not aided by extramarital affairs on both sides. Following their separation at the end of the 1950s, de Kooning had a child with another woman, and even had an affair with Ruth Kligman, the former lover of Jackson Pollock who had survived the car crash that killed him. However, Elaine and Willem reunited in the mid 1970s and remained together until her death in 1989.



Although undoubtedly an equal of Jackson Pollock in talent and achievement, de Kooning’s work has proved less influential. His achievement was to blend Cubism,Expressionism and Surrealism, and he did so with astonishing power throughout a career remarkable for its consistent high quality. Yet as artists’ concerns moved away from those of modernism, his work seemed less relevant, and for a generation of less macho, more Pop-influenced artists such as Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, de Kooning represented the epitome of the grand heroics they distrusted. Rauschenberg himself would express their distance from him most powerfully – and famously – when he purchased a drawing by de Kooning, erased it, and exhibited the result as his own artwork (Erased de Kooning Drawing, (1953)). Nevertheless, de Kooning’s influence on painters remains important even to this day, particularly those attracted to gestural styles; the highly abstract and erotic work of prominent 1990s painter Cecily Brown is inconceivable without his example.

Original content written by The Art Story Contributors
Willem de Kooning. [Internet]. 2015. website. Available from: [Accesed 03 May 2015]


“I don’t paint to live, I live to paint”

“I’d like to get all the colors in the world into one painting”.

“I never was interested in how to make a good painting.. But to see how far one can go”.

“Art never seems to make me peaceful or pure. I always seem to be wrapped up in the melodrama of vulgarity.”

“I don’t paint with ideas of art in mind. I see something that excites me. It becomes my content.”

“Even abstract shapes must have a likeness”

“Flesh was the reason why oil painting was invented”



Pablo Picasso

Joan Miró

Piet Mondrian

Arshile Gorky

Chaim Soutine

Clement Greenberg

Harold Rosenberg

Franz Kline

John Graham


De Stijl


Willem de Kooning Bio Photo
Willem de Kooning
Years Worked: 1930 – 1990

Robert Rauschenberg Overview

Robert Rauschenberg

Joan Mitchell Overview

Joan Mitchell

Franz Kline Overview

Franz Kline

Richard Diebenkorn Overview

Richard Diebenkorn

Cecily Brown Overview

Cecily Brown

Harold Rosenberg Overview

Harold Rosenberg

Clement Greenberg Overview

Clement Greenberg

Arshile Gorky Overview

Arshile Gorky

Pop Art Overview

Pop Art

Post-Painterly Abstraction Overview

Post-Painterly Abstraction

Neo-Expressionism Overview



Good article

This is the blog. I’ll use the blog to let you know what’s going on in the world of celebrity art.

Paintings by Paul McCartney

Ancient Connections by Paul McCartney

Like his former Beatles bandmates Ringo Starr and the late John Lennon, Paul McCartney is a painter. His interest in art developed in the 1960s through his friendship with gallery-owner Robert Fraser. Through Fraser McCartney met many well-known artists including Andy Warhol. He later became a fan of Rene Magritte. He used Magritte’s painting of an apple for the Apple Records logo. He also established a friendship with artist Willem de Kooning who is said to have had a large influence on McCartney’s artistic style. Paul McCartney took up painting in 1983. He exhibited his paintings for the first time in Siegen, Germany in 1999. The catalog from this exhibition was later released as a book titled Paul McCartney: Paintings. In 2002 he had a comprehensive exhibition of his artwork at the Walker Art Gallery in his home town of Liverpool. The image posted here is “Ancient Connections” by Paul McCartney.

See the Pop Life Art homepage for links to the artwork of Paul McCartney and other singers, musicians, and actors.

Paul McCartney Free Concert and Art Exhibit in the Ukraine (4/29/08)

Photographs by Linda McCartney to go on Display in London (4/4/08)


Paul McCartney and Luigi’s Alcove

Big Mountain Face

I’m sure you know Paul McCartney as a singer and song-writer. But did you know the ex-Beatle also paints?

A few years ago, I got the book Paul McCartney: Paintings. He does these big, expressive, semi-abstract pieces that have a sort of visceral effect, with lots of drips and runs. Very much influenced by Willem de Kooning’sabstract expressionism.

Great article on Black Mountain College:

Experimental liberal arts college at Black Mountain, NC, open from 1933 to 1957. In the 1940s and early 1950s it was a centre for a group of painters, architects, musicians and poets associated particularly with the development of performance and multimedia work, crossing many disciplines. It was founded by John Andrew Rice (1888–1968) and a group of students and staff from Rollins College, Winter Park, FL. It was located in the Blue Ridge Assembly Buildings, c. 29 km east of Asheville, NC, until 1941, when it moved to nearby Lake Eden until its closure. The progressive ideas of John Dewey influenced the interaction of formal education with community life, the absence of conventional grades and credits and the central importance accorded to the arts. The college was owned and administered by the staff. The setting was modest, and fewer than 1200 students attended in 24 years.

In the founding year Josef Albers, the first of many European refugees to teach at Black Mountain, came from Germany to teach art; through his activities the college disseminated Bauhaus teaching methods and ideas into American culture. The visual arts curriculum included courses in design and colour that later became a standard part of art education, as well as workshops in weaving, wood-working, printing, photography and bookbinding. Anni Albers, a former Bauhaus student, developed a weaving course that emphasized designing for industrial production. Xanti Schawinsky (1904–79), who studied with Oskar Schlemmer at the Bauhaus, taught art and stage studies from 1936 to 1938 and directed Spectodrama: Play, Life, Illusion, one of the earliest performances of abstract theatre in the USA.

In 1944 Black Mountain College sponsored its first summer arts programme, which attracted many major artists for intense periods of teaching and participation in concerts, exhibitions, lectures and drama and dance performances. Among the European artists who taught were Lyonel Feininger, Walter Gropius, Leo Lionni (b1910), Amédée Ozenfant, Bernard Rudofsky (1905–88) and Ossip Zadkine. Other summer staff included Leo Amino (b 1911), John Cage, Mary Callery (1903–77), Merce Cunningham, Willem de Kooning, Buckminster Fuller, Jacob Lawrence (b 1917), Barbara Morgan (b 1900) and Robert Motherwell. Ilya Bolotowsky taught from 1946 to 1948.

After Josef Albers left in 1949, the central figure in the community was the poet and critic Charles Olson (1910–70), who taught at the college in 1948–9 and returned in 1951. Under his direction the college became a centre for the formulation of a new poetics based on open form and ‘projective verse’. The Black Mountain Review, edited by Robert Creeley (b 1926), was one of the most influential small-press journals of the period, and the college played a formative role in the revival of the small-press movement in the USA. Creeley, Joseph Fiore (b 1925), M. C. Richards (b 1916) and Robert Duncan (1919–88) were among the members of the young American staff. A ceramics course was added to the curriculum and the faculty included Robert Turner (b 1913), Karen Karnes (b 1925) and David Weinrib (b 1924). The summer sessions in the arts brought many artists to the campus, including Harry Callahan, Shōji Hamada, Franz Kline, Bernard Leach, Ben Shahn, Aaron Siskind, Jack Tworkov and Peter Voulkos (b 1924).

Albers and the other European artists brought the spirit of modernism to the progressive, experimental spirit of the founders, and the fusion of these two movements culminated in a creative atmosphere and an intense, intellectual community, receptive to experimental ventures in the arts. It was at Black Mountain College that Buckminster Fuller attempted to raise his first dome in 1948, that John Cage staged his first work of performance art in 1952, and that the Cunningham Dance Company was founded in 1953. Through the work of its students, among them Ruth Asawa (b 1926), John Chamberlain, Ray Johnson, Kenneth Noland, Robert Rauschenberg, Dorothea Rockburne (b 1929), Kenneth Snelson, Cy Twombly, Stanley Vanderbeek (1927–84) and Jonathan Williams (b1929), the college played a formative role in the definition of an American aesthetic and identity in the arts during the 1950s and 1960s.

Mary Emma Harris
From Grove Art Online

© 2009 Oxford University Press

Spark’s latest ‘The Longest Ride’ filmed across NC

Like most of NC native Nicholas Sparks‘ stories, “The Longest Ride” is set in North Carolina and involves love stories that intertwine across time. In “The Longest Ride”  Luke, a rodeo rider played by Clint Eastwood’s son Scott Eastwood, and Sophia, an art history major at Wake Forest University  played by Britt Robertson, fall in love against a backdrop of North Carolina mountains and Piedmont hills. A second plot line features Ira, a WWII vet played by Alan Alda. Told mostly in flashback, this story is largely set at historic Black Mountain College, an experimental school just outside Asheville which left a huge legacy both in the arts and in education during its brief life.
Released by 20th Century Fox on April 10, 2015, the film was made in North Carolina, using locations across the state. Filming destinations included Wilmington, Winston-Salem, Jacksonville and the Yadkin River Valley, home of North Carolina’s largest wine area, as well as the NC mountains and the isolated peak of Pilot Mountain, just north of Winston-Salem.
“Nicholas Sparks, who makes his home in New Bern, N.C., finds endless inspiration in the history and beauty of North Carolina,” said Wit Tuttell, executive director of Visit North Carolina. “By using the natural landscapes to bring ‘The Longest Ride’ to the screen, the filmmakers have created a special invitation to explore the state’s scenery, heritage and an artistic streak that extends from the mountains to the coast.”
To help film tourists experience places featured in the film and the novel, Visit North Carolina has put together a four-day trip across the state (we think a week would do it more justice). Here are some highlights:
The itinerary begins in Asheville’s River Arts District, where you can join the stars in exploring some 189 working studios and dine in some of the trendiest restaurants in this foodie obsessed city. Consider an overnight stay at the Omni Grove Park Inn, with majestic views of the city and the mountains, where Alda and his bride, played by Oona Chaplin, honeymooned. Downtown Asheville is also a great spot to begin your exploration of the phenomenon that was Black Mountain College. The Asheville Art Museum houses the Black Mountain Collection which includes works by some of the most influential artists who made their home at the college including Elaine de Kooning, Ken Noland, and Ray Johnson. The Black Mountain College Museum and Event Center, located a block or so away, tells the history of this remarkable institution.
Day Two takes visitors down I-40 for a driveby of the old Black Mountain College campus on Lake Eden off Old Hwy 70. In operation from just 1933 to 1957, the grounds are now used as a boys camp, but regain some of their artistic spark during the Lake Eden Arts Festival, held twice a year. The artsy community of Black Mountain, home of numerous galleries and shops, is worth a visit year round.
Continue down I-40 to I-77 for a hike or horse ride on the trails at Pilot Mountain State Park, with 2,421-foot quartzite dome, a National Natural Landmark, climbed by Luke and Sophia in the movie. This is the heart of the Yadkin Valley wine region, with lots of options for tastings and dining, as well as accommodations on winery grounds. To complete the film experience, plan a stay at the Mitchell River House, Luke’s home in “The Longest Ride.”
Day Three heads for Winston-Salem, home of the lush campus of Wake Forest University, where Sophia studied art. Plan your trip into town through the towns of Pinnacle and King, location of the American Legion Complex scene of the movie’s rodeo action. The city of Winston-Salem is home to several important art galleries, including the Reynolda House Museum, once home of the Reynolds family, as well as the living history neighborhood of Old Salem. Follow Luke and Sophia’s steps to Sakura Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar or the elegant Fabian’s Restaurant.
Day Four of the itinerary travels to Wilmington, a 3.5 hour drive down I-40. Make a short detour at Exit 384 to visit the charming downtown of Wallace, NC, which stood in for downtown Greensboro during the era when Ira was growing up there. Locations from the film include Wallace storefronts that “played” Ira’s father’s haberdashery, the soda shop, bus station and newsstand.
Much of the filming of “The Longest Ride” took place in Wilmington, known as Hollywood East and the location of the sound stages of EUE/Screen Gems Studios, which are again open for touring during the travel season. Wilmington locations used in filming include the Temple of Israel, the Union Station Building, St. Mary’s Catholic School and homes in historic neighborhoods, best seen by horse-drawn carriage. The galleries of the Cameron Art Museum stood in for several of the museums visited in the film. Sign up for the Hollywood Location Walk to discover Wilmington locations used in many movies from “Blue Velvet” to “Iron Man 3” as well as many Sparks films and TV shows. Plan to stay at the Greystone Inn, where the “Longest Ride” party scene was filmed.
The final stop in the itinerary is nearby Caswell Beach, located on remote Oak Island, which served as a stand-in for the Outer Banks where Ruth’s family vacationed.
Learn more and access everything you need for planning a trip at, or call 1-800-VISITNC (1-800-847-4862).



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