Keith Mayerson


Elaine de Kooning in her Studio (Painted in her Studio), 2019


To honor Elaine, and to have her beckon me into the studio, I painted this image, a film still from a movie from the last years of her life. The top part of the image wasn't in the photo, I was able to place my easel exactly where the camera had been, and match the colors and the light and architecture from the existing structure, where everything has been kept exactly the same, to the photo itself. I listened to all her original vinyl while painting these pictures, and it was intense listening to the mesmerizing deep opera and classical music she loved—her DNA was all over the records and I cleaned each side from dust and even her hair one by one… It was as if her ghost was in the room, but she had such amazing energy, was really the life blood and spirit for the whole abstract expressionist group, that the painting was pure pleasure to create. She was a wonderful, generous person, and two of her favorite later subjects—Scott and Megan reminded me at our opening in the studio—Scott is portrayed here in the back—the bearded man, who for me (as I have a beard) was my "Les Meninas" like avatar (Velazquez portrayed himself in a mirror in the background of this famous painting). She is working on a picture of her nephew, and there is one of her famous Bacchus paintings in the background, and what looks like to me a Willem de Kooning framed drawing resting in the front. She wasn't a religious person, but spiritual, and would go to Sunday School to "brush up", and I noticed crosses throughout this image. I think if her ghost exists, or at least her spirit, she would be wanted to be remembered for her art in addition to her important writing for Art News that helped to define the movement, and her zesty joie de vivre. I've made a commitment towards this end, trying to convince my gallery Marlborough to take on her estate, and feel very blessed and fortunate to have this wonderful opportunity to paint in her studio—like in this photograph, her spirit feels very much there…