Willem de Kooning (1904-1997),
A key figure in the Abstract Expressionist movement, de Kooning studied art in Holland and Belgium before moving to the US in 1926. He worked odd jobs until becoming a part of the WPA Federal Art Project brought about by Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. Influenced by the Cubism and Surrealism of Picasso, de Kooning's work began to increasingly move figures and landscapes into abstraction. He became associated with the Abstract Expressionist "Action Painting" style along with artists such as Jackson Pollack and Franz Kline. Exhibiting in groups shows throughout the 30's and 40's, de Kooning did not have a one-man show until 1948, the same year he began teaching at the Black Mountain College. Throughout most his later career de Kooning focused on the female form. In 1986, de Kooning was forced to abandon his work due to worsening Alzheimer's.