Keith Mayerson

Everyone's Dying to Get in Here: Elaine de Kooning at the Green River Cemetery, 2019

The Green River Cemetery is where many of the Ab Ex artists now reside, including Krasner and Pollock and Elaine, and it was Elaine who quipped "Everyone's Dying to Get in Here". One of the most famous cemeteries in the world, the modest plot of land was originally for the locals, and then became a "who's who" of modern culture. I went there for the first painting of my Elaine de Kooning House residency, and just the night before I arrived, I was in NYC with my friend the cartoonist Art Spiegelman, and we were talking about one of our favorite movies, Young Frankenstein, and amazingly Peter Boyle, the actor who played the title character's tombstone was right next to me, in front of hers while I painted, trying to "raise the dead." I put a rock on the tombstone that was still there two days after when I began this work, that was like my spiritual avatar while painting, and the birds and the sun kept me wonderful company. I listened to the incredible book 'Ninth Street Women" by Mary Gabriel while painting, in addition to classical music and jazz that Elaine would have liked, and the energy was terrific. I still don't know for certain what the marble/rock-like edifice of the tombstone depicts, but assume it is abstract, like a rose—or I also saw her portrait within it, with her profile on the left, her hair on the right. It was a sublime, wondrous day painting and ask her blessingsā€¦