Why Is Willem De Kooning's Interchange The Most Expensive Painting?

Why Is Willem De Kooning’s “Interchange” The Most Expensive Painting?

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Willem de Kooning’s paintings continue to go for record numbers of dollars. He shows us that even in death, he is a critical Abstract Expressionism artist.

Willem de Kooning was one of the founders of abstract expressionism. His paintings sell for record amounts of dollars along with those of other abstract expressionism artists such as Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. The Interchange painting has excellent provenance, as it is certified as an original Willem de Kooning, and we know who owned it and how much they paid for it.

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Until now, the Interchange painting has rarely been shown to the public as it has been in the hands of private collectors.

Why Willem de Kooning’s Interchange Sold For 300 Million USD

When many people hear that Willem de Kooning’s Interchange sold in 2015 for $300 million, they are astounded at the price of the painting as it is only about 79” x 69” large.

Interchange (1955) By Willem de Kooning

That means one square inch of this painting sold for an astronomical amount. There are several reasons why the painting sold for so much money. Here are some reasons:

  • Painting By Willem de Kooning – Willem de Kooning is considered one of the founders of the abstract expressionism movement. Because of this, the work by most abstract expressionism artists, including Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock, along with William de Kooning, continue to sell for record amounts of money.
  • Willem de Kooning’s Paintings Are Valuable – Willem de Kooning’s paintings are valuable. Many of them continue to sell for a lot of money, ensuring that all the paintings continue to set a record number of dollars.
  • Collectors Like The Paintings – Art collectors like the William de Kooning paintings and want to purchase them. This, of course, also helps to drive the price up.
  • Limited Supply – As William de Kooning has passed away, only a limited supply of his paintings can be bought and sold.
  • Excellent Provenance – Like many Willem de Kooning paintings, this painting has perfect provenance. They know who Willem de Kooning sold the painting to and everyone who bought it along the way. The painting can easily be verified as an original Willem de Kooning painting.
  • Rarely On Public Display – Even though Kennett Griffin bought this painting to be on loan to the Art Institute of Chicago, this is a painting that has seldom been on public display. Museums have not owned it but individual collectors throughout the entire life of the painting. These are other reasons why the Interchange painting sold for a record number of dollars. It is a painting that has increased significantly in value over the years.

Willem de Kooning’s Interchange Painting Sold For 300 Million in 2015

In 2015, the hedge fund investor Kennett Griffin bought de Kooning’s interchange for $300 million. Interchange is a 1955 painting by de Kooning.

The David Geffen Foundation sold the paintings; this is a massive amount of money to be paid for one painting.

Also, Kenneth Griffin bought Jackson Pollock’s Number 17A for 200 million USD in the same sale. Both paintings went for a record 500 Million USD.

Kenneth Griffin, on the board of the Art Institute of Chicago, bought the paintings to be on loan and displayed at the Art Insitute in Chicago; both the Jackson Pollock and Interchange can be seen at the Art Institute in Chicago.

A few things about this painting:

  • Originally, this painting was sold in 1955 for $4,000 to Architect Edgar Kaufmann Jr.
  • The Kaufman Estate sold this painting and others at Sotheby’s in New York City in 1986 to a Japanese art dealer, Shigeki Kameyama, for 20.7 million USD; this painting set a price of art being sold by a living artist.
  • A few years later, the painting was sold to David Geffen at a loss due to a Japanese recession in the early 1990s.
  • In September 2015, David Geffen sold it to Kenneth Griffin for 300 Million USD.

You can see how this one painting went from being sold for 4,000 USD in 1955 to 300 million in 2015.

About Willem de Kooning’s Interchange Painting (1955)

Willem de Kooning’s Interchange, also known as interchanged.

Some say that this 1955 painting marked the transition between Willem de Kooning’s painting of the female form to urban landscapes. We know that the painting does mark a change in his painting as we can see some influence from the artist Franz Kline.

Franz Kline With His Painting Untitled, 1950

Franz Kline inspired De Kooning to paint with quick gestural marks instead of violent brushstrokes. The painting features a fleshy pink mass in the center, representing a seated woman. So, even though de Kooning painted landscapes, he still had the female form in some of his paintings.

Willem de Kooning continues to be an essential abstract expressionism artist. His great style has inspired many artists who have gone after him.

11 Fascinating Facts About Willem de Kooning

Willem de Kooning is one of my favorite artists. Here are 11 interesting facts about him and his life.

  1. Dutch Origins: Willem de Kooning was born on April 24, 1904, in Rotterdam, Netherlands. He later immigrated to the U.S. in 1926.
  2. Self-Taught Artist: Though he attended the Rotterdam Academy of Fine Arts and Techniques, de Kooning is mainly self-taught, developing his style and techniques throughout his life.
  3. Abstract Expressionism: De Kooning is best known as a significant figure in the abstract expressionism movement, which emerged in New York in the 1940s. His works often combined abstract forms with hints of figuration.
  4. “Woman” Series: One of his most recognized series is the “Woman” series—large, aggressive depictions of the female form, combining elements of abstraction and figuration.
  5. Sculpture Work: While de Kooning is primarily known as a painter, he began creating sculptures in the 1970s, mostly cast in bronze.
  6. Profound Influence: De Kooning’s art and style profoundly influenced subsequent generations of artists, cementing his legacy in the art world.
  7. Highly Valued Art: In 2006, a de Kooning painting titled “Woman III” was sold for a staggering $137.5 million, making it one of the most expensive paintings ever sold at that time.
  8. Long Productive Career: De Kooning’s artistic career spanned several decades, from the 1920s to the late 1980s. Even as he faced health challenges, including Alzheimer’s, in his later years, he remained productive.
  9. Personal Struggles: Willem de Kooning struggled with alcoholism, impacting his relationships and professional career.
  10. Enduring Partnership: He had a long, albeit tumultuous, marriage with fellow artist Elaine Fried, who was a significant abstract painter in her own right. They were both influential figures in the New York art scene.
  11. Lifetime Achievement: In 1986, Willem de Kooning was awarded the National Medal of Arts, solidifying his place as one of the 20th century’s most significant and influential artists.

Willem de Kooning’s profound impact on the art world is undeniable. From his pioneering works in Abstract Expressionism to his influence on subsequent generations of artists, his legacy endures.

Listen To Our Podcast About Exploring the Priciest Masterpiece of Willem De Kooning’s “Interchange” Below or By clicking here.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Willem de Kooning’s “Interchange” considered so expensive?

“Interchange” by Willem de Kooning is considered expensive due to its status as a highly significant and iconic artwork within the realm of Abstract Expressionism. The painting’s historical importance, critical acclaim, rarity, and demand from collectors contribute to its high market value.

Is “Interchange” the most expensive painting by Willem de Kooning?

Is “Interchange” the most expensive painting by Willem de Kooning?
Yes, “Interchange” holds the record for being the most expensive painting by Willem de Kooning ever sold at auction.

What is the price of the painting “Interchange” by Willem de Kooning?

The exact price of “Interchange” can vary depending on factors such as the auction setting, buyer’s willingness to pay, and other market dynamics. However, it was sold for a reported price of approximately $300 million in a private sale.

Why is “Interchange” by Willem de Kooning highly valued?

“Interchange” is highly valued due to its exceptional artistic qualities, including its bold brushwork, expressive style, and innovative approach to abstract representation. The painting exemplifies de Kooning’s artistic mastery and his significant contribution to Abstract Expressionism.

How does the price of “Interchange” compare to other famous paintings?

The price of “Interchange” places it among the most expensive artworks ever sold. However, it is important to note that the value of artworks can vary over time, and other factors, such as rarity, provenance, and historical significance, also contribute to the prices of famous paintings.

Are there any similar artworks by Willem de Kooning that have reached high prices?

Yes, several other artworks by Willem de Kooning have achieved significant prices at auctions and private sales. His works, especially those from his iconic “Woman” series, are highly sought after by collectors and art enthusiasts.

What is the historical significance of “Interchange” in the context of Abstract Expressionism?

“Interchange” is considered historically significant as it represents a defining moment in the development of Abstract Expressionism. The painting showcases de Kooning’s signature style characterized by gestural brushwork, dynamic composition, and a fusion of abstraction and figuration. It exemplifies the movement’s emphasis on spontaneous expression, emotional intensity, and the liberation of artistic form.

Is “Interchange” considered a masterpiece in art history?

Yes, “Interchange” is widely regarded as a masterpiece in art history. It is recognized for its innovation, technical virtuosity, and the way it encapsulates the spirit and essence of Willem de Kooning’s artistic vision. The painting’s influence and artistic merit have contributed to its esteemed status.

What Makes Jackson Pollock’s Art So Valuable?

Jackson Pollock was a brilliant and creative artist who was not afraid to try new techniques with art. He is known for being a founder of Abstract Expressionism and the gestural technique, also known as action painting. He never saw much success in his lifetime, but today his painting fetch millions of dollars and are considered extremely valuable.

By clicking here, you can discover more by reading What Makes Jackson Pollock’s Art So Valuable?.

What Is The Cultural Significance Of Abstract Expressionism Art?

The cultural significance of abstract expressionism art is it was a forerunner for the cultural changes that took place in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s.   The Abstract Expressionism movement started after World War II in the 1940s and continued into the 1950s. The world saw great cultural shifts in the 1950s and the 1960s.

You can learn more by reading the blog What Is The Cultural Significance Of Abstract Expressionism Art? by clicking here.

What Makes Mark Rothko’s Paintings So Valuable?

Mark Rothko’s paintings have been valuable for many years; they are in high demand and continue to fetch record prices around the globe. At first glance, the paintings may look simple, but upon closer look, they are very complex; they are meant to evoke our emotions and transport us to another realm.

By clicking here, you can discover more by reading What Makes Mark Rothko’s Paintings So Valuable?.

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