Elaine de Kooning
Elaine de Kooning: Torchlight Cave Drawing 4, 1985
from a portfolio of eight aquatints, Crown Point Press
I’ve written before about Crown Point Press and founder Kathan Brown and their importance in the printmaking field with its famed studio and book publications. In fact, I purchased the book Magical Secrets some time later and have enjoyed it, as well as the accompanying website and blog.
Recently I discovered Elaine de Kooning and some work she had done at Crown Point over 20 years ago. Two things immediately excited me – first I did not know that Willem de Kooning (whose work I love) had a wife who was also an artist. Secondly, this beautiful series of aquatint etchings called Torchlight Cave Drawings is inspired by the cave paintings in southern France. (And you know that’s a subject dear to me!)
The point of departure for Elaine de Kooning’s etchings is the cave paintings near Les Eyzies in the Dordogne region of southern France. The paintings date back to Paleolithic times (10,000 to 30,000 B.C.) and the caves are thought to have been necromantic sanctuaries for the worship of the hunt. The primary subject matter is animals –bulls, stags, mammoth, and bison of a variety that have been extinct for thousands of years. When de Kooning first visited the caves she was captivated by the phenomenally lifelike appearance of the animals and inspired by the aura of magic in the underground enclaves.