Portrait of Aristodimos Kaldis
© Estate of Elaine de Kooning / Jim Levis Fine Art, New York
Full view of a man with long hair wearing a jacket and scarf. Sketch background with a chair and rectangular forms suggesting an artist's studio.
Despite the dominance of Abstract Expressionism and non-objective painting from the late 1940s to the mid-1970s, Elaine de Kooning continued to explore the human figure in her work. Her approach has much in common with the abstract painters of her generation, as we see here in her loose, expressive marks. In this portrait, she depicts fellow artist Aristodimos Kaldis, a man that art critic Hilton Kramer once described as “large, noisy, histrionic, outrageous and irrepressible. His hair was long and unruly, his highly animated face seemed to sport many more features than could be entirely accounted for by nature—his very large nose was especially memorable—and in every weather he was wrapped in a bright red scarf of Isadora length that instantly set him apart from ordinary mortals.”
Exhibition Title: Go Figure Exhibition
Label Date: 2/7/2015
Artist and Communist activist Aristodimos Kaldis was a fixture of the New York City gallery scene. De Kooning, a prominent figure in the development and establishment of Abstract and Figurative Expressionism as movements, returned to Kaldis as a model for paintings and drawings. Here, she renders her friend in charcoal, demonstrating a prowess for portraiture in this direct yet expressive medium. Her subject’s stance communicates a sense of familiarity as well as a distinctive personality. Kaldis seems to vibrate with energy and presence through de Kooning’s gestural marks and the wild wisps of his hair and scarf.
Exhibition Title: Asheville Art Museum: An Introduction to the Catalogue
Label Date: 2021
Type: Catalogue entry
Written by: Hilary Schroeder
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