In 1983 Courtney Sale Ross made a compelling documentary about her artist neighbour, Willem de Kooning: 'Strokes of Genius: de Kooning on de Kooning'. Courtney Sale Ross’s film 'Strokes of Genius: de Kooning on de Kooning' emulated a pivotal moment in American art that had occurred 33 years previously — a 1950 documentary of Jackson Pollock in his studio in East Hampton, flicking and pouring paint onto a horizontal canvas with a surly autonomy. It was alchemy in motion and gave rise to the term Action Painting. Observing Willem de Kooning (1904-1997) at work in the film is no less compelling. The critic Harold Rosenberg had described the artist as a ‘heroic existentialist’, and at the age of 79 he is still quick and keen. As Dustin Hoffman says in the film’s introduction, ‘We watch spellbound as he paints with deceptive ease, slashing paint onto the canvas, moving back to look at the results, stepping forward to stab again’.
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