de Kooning friends and associates

Willem de Kooning, 1985. Black and white photograph. East Hampton, NY.

Josef Alberts

Worked with de Kooning at Black Mountain College in 1948, hired him for teaching position at Yale 1950.

Antonie Breedveld

Nephew, son of de Kooning’s sister, Marie.

Marie de Kooning Breedveld

Older sister.

James Brooks

Fellow artist who worked on the Mural Division of the World Progress Administration (WPA) Federal Art Project, 1935-1941. Was pallbearer at Jackson Pollock’s funeral. Resided in the Springs of Long Island.

Rudy Burckhardt

Lived with Edwin Denby in building next to de Kooning and Juliet Browning in 1935. The two became the first fans and collectors of de Kooning’s work.

John Cage

Music and dance editor of Robert Motherwell’s Possibilities magazine, and a former faculty member of Black Mountain College. Friends with Willem and Elaine.

Leo Castelli (born Leo Krauss)

Art dealer from Trieste, opened his own gallery in his apartment in 1957. De Kooning spent the summer of 1952 at Castelli’s home in the Hamptons.

Giorgio Cavallon

Member of The Club, the restaurant opened by de Kooning and other artist friends.

Leo Cohan

The friend who arranged for de Kooning to stow away on the SS Shelly, immigrating from Holland to the United States. Cohan later accompanied de Kooning on his 1968 retrospective tour of Holland.

Gregory Corso

Friend of de Kooning, showed him around Rome in 1958.

Stuart Davis

Abstract artist who was among those with whom de Kooning socialized in the 1930s.

Cornelia Nobel de Kooning


Leendert de Kooning


Johanna Lisbeth (Lisa) de Kooning

Daughter of de Kooning and Joan Ward, born January 12, 1956. His only child.

Edwin Denby

See Rudy Burckhart, above.

Burgoyne Diller

Director of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) Federal Art Project. It was Diller who inspired de Kooning to paint for a living, devoting his life to art.

Lee Eastman

De Kooning’s attorney.

Charles Egan

Philadelphia native who opened a New York City gallery at 63 East 57th Street in February 1946, assisted by de Kooning and other artist friends. Hosted de Kooning’s first solo exhibition at Charles Egan Gallery on April 12, 1948. Had an affair with de Kooning’s wife, Elaine, that same year. Was member of The Club restaurant. De Kooning’s second one-man show was also held at Charles Egan Gallery, April 1951; Egan retained all proceeds.

Tom Ferrara

De Kooning’s assistant, 1980 to 1987.

John and Rae Ferren

Fellow artists who resided at 52 East 9th Street near de Kooning’s studio in 1946. In 1963, de Kooning and Susan Brockman rented their house in the Springs, but the Ferrens were forced to evict them because of damages to the property during drunken fighting.

Tully Filmus

He and his wife, Joan, shared a summer house in Woodstock with de Kooning and Nini Diaz, along with Russian friend, Anton Refregier, in 1930.

Xavier Fourcade

Co-owner of Fourcade, Droll, Inc., who became de Kooning exclusive art dealer in 1976.

Conrad Fried

Brother of Elaine de Kooning.

Arshile Gorky

Abstract Impressionist and de Kooning’s first roommate in Manhattan, when they shared an apartment at 36 Union Square in 1930. They remained close friends until Gorky’s suicide in 1948.

Arshile Gorky (1904-1948). Painter.

John Graham

Long-time friend after meeting at an exhibition of Graham’s work at the Valentine Dudensing Gallery on April 29, 1929.

Balcomb Greene

Friends with de Kooning and Gorky, both of whom visited his home in Fishkill in 1939.

Peter Grippe

Member of de Kooning’s restaurant, The Club.

Bill Hardy

Physician and “friend” of Elaine, who sailed with her to Provincetown in 1945, much to de Kooning’s displeasure.

Thomas Hess

Former editor of Art News magazine, art critic for New York magazine, chairman of the 20th century art department at the Metropolitan Museum, and long-time friend.

Joseph Hirshhorn

Purchased a number of de Kooning pieces in 1964-1965, plying him with liquor and securing them for below-market prices.

Hans Hofman

Fellow artist, friend and neighbor in the mid-1940s.

Hans Hofmann (1880-1966). Painter. In his studio, 1950. Photograph by Kay Bell Reynal; Smithsonian Archives.

Sidney Janis

Owner of the Sidney Janis Gallery. Provided financial support to de Kooning in 1951, with the agreement that he rename his studio the Janis Gallery, which he did in 1953. Traveled to Rome to prevent de Kooning from frittering away his work there, which he nevertheless did upon her return to the States.

Robert Jonas

Fellow employee at the A.S.Beck Shoe Stores and friend of de Kooning. Often visited de Kooning and Diaz in their home in 1930. He and Elaine were involved prior to her marriage to de Kooning; and shortly after the marriage, de Kooning caught the two in bed together.

Earl Kerkam

De Kooning and other artists petitioned the Museum of Modern Art to show his work after his death in 1939.

Franz Kline

Lived above the Ferrens at 52 East 9th Street and was a fellow artist and friend in the 1930s and 1940s. De Kooning helped him secure a teaching position at Yale in 1951. Member of The Club.

Franz Kline (1910-1962). Painter. In his 14th Street Studio, 1961.

Jacobus Lassoy

Stepfather from his mother’s second marriage.

Koos Lassoy


Landes Lewton

Member of The Club.

Michael Loew

Friend of Robert Jonas, commissioned de Kooning to paint a mural for the World’s Fair. He worked on this project from 1937 to early 1939.

Conrad Marca-Relli

Artist and owner of studio in New York City. Lived with wife, Rae, at 52 East 9th Street, below the Ferrens. Later became neighbor of de Kooning and Jackson Pollock in the Springs of Long Island, where de Kooning, art dealer Eleanor Ward and others gathered after the funeral of Pollock in 1956. It was here that de Kooning allegedly announced that, with Pollock gone, “It’s over. I’m number one.”

David Margolis

Renowned European artist. He and de Kooning shared a love of jazz and frequented the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem and George’s in the Village.

John McMahon

Full-time personal assistant from early 1950s until becoming part-time beginning in 1965.

Robert Motherwell

Artist and political activist in the 1940s and 1950s. Held a symposium at Studio 35 in 1950, encouraging all abstract artists to define their art.

Robert Motherwell (1915-1991). Painter, in his studio.

Barnett Newman

Co-exhibitor in Newman - de Kooning, an exhibition of two founding fathers, which opened at the Allan Stone Gallery on October 23, 1962. His style was similar to de Kooning’s drawings, and his reputation benefited because of the association with de Kooning.

Frank O’Hara

Artist, who became Assistant Curator of Painting and Sculpture Exhibitions in 1960, after working desk job at the Museum of Modern art for nine years. Friends with Willem and Elaine de Kooning. Maintained a relationship with Larry Rivers.

Phillip Pavia

Member of The Club.

Jackson Pollock

Abstract Impressionist artist, considered to be de Kooning’s rival. The two, however, shared a friendship – and a considerable amount of booze.

Jackson Pollock (1912-1956). Painter. Photograph by Hans Namuth, 1950.

Robert Rauschenberg

Art student who, with de Kooning’s permission, produced an experimental work wherein he, over a three-week span, erased one of de Kooning’s drawings. When he learned that what he believed to be a private project was being exhibited by Rauschenbert as Erased de Kooning, the artist became enraged.

Anton Refregier

Russian immigrant. Spent summer of 1930 in Woodstock with de Kooning and Nini Diaz, along with Tully and Joan Filmus.

Bernard Reis

Personal accountant, hired in 1958.

Milton Resnick

Friend and fellow artist who collaborated in 1946 on a backdrop commissioned by Marie Marchowsky for the dance performance Labyrinth at the New York Times Hall.

Based on de Kooning’s Judgment Day, the painting was 17x20 feet in size. Resnick was a neighbor and a member of The Club.

Misha Reznikoff

From Kabilia, Russia, Reznikoff came to the U.S. in 1921. Studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, and at the Art Student League where he became friends with Stuart Davis. Met de Kooning in 1927. Was instrumental in de Kooning’s appointment as a summer instructor at Black Mountain College in 1948, asking Peter Grippe of Atelier 17 printing studio to suggest him to Josef Alberts, the overseer of Black Mountain College.

Larry Rivers

Lover of Frank O’Hara, part of the New York City artists circle, and friends with Willem and Elaine in the 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s.

James Rosati

Member of The Club.

Harold Rosenberg

Art critic for The New Yorker. In 1938, he became the National Arts Director of the WPA’s American Guide series. Frequent visitor to de Kooning’s studio in the late 1940s through 1950s.

Mark Rothko

Well-known artist; met de Kooning in 1936.

Mark Rothko (1903-1970). Painter. Kunsthalle, Hamburg, 1961.

Dado Ruspoli

Son of the Prince of Ruspoli; entertained de Kooning when he visited Rome in 1960.

Ludwig Sander

Member of The Club.

Joop Sanders

Dutch American artist and friend of Willem and Elaine. One of the twenty original founders of The Club.

Meyer Sharpiro

Art critic who encouraged de Kooning to revisit Woman I in June 1952.

David Smith

Sculptor and friend of de Kooning, Davis, and Gorky.

Raphael Soyer

Fellow abstract artist and friend.

Allan Stone

Art dealer and owner of the Allan Stone Gallery at 48 East 86th Street. Held Newman-DeKooning, an exhibition of two founding fathers on October 23, 1962. Handled some of de Kooning’s smaller works in 1962.

Jack Tworkov

His studio at 85 - 4th Avenue adjoined de Kooning’s, 1948-1953. Part of the WPA Federal Art Project, 1935-1941. Emigrated to U.S. from Poland with his sister, Janice Biala, in 1913. Member of The Club.

Michael Wright

Became de Kooning’s full-time assistant in 1965.

Mac Vogel

New York architect. De Kooning stayed at his 40 Union Square residence briefly in 1934 before moving to 145 West 21st Street with Juliet Browner.