Anxiety of Influence - de Kooning / Picasso

Willem de Kooning’s access to Cezanne was blocked during his formative years, the 1930s and 1940s, by the feverish cult of Picasso thus he never saw Cubism for what it is, Cezanne shorthand, not some cosmic invention from whole cloth.  Jackson Pollock also suffered from this myopia. These two painters banged their heads silly against Picasso like loose shutters in a hurricane while the magic, beauty and grace of Cezanne eluded them thus de Koonings un-mooring after his great masterpiece “Excavation” and the early “Woman” series.  Arshille Gorky,  de Kooning’s mentor, was completely obsessed with Cezanne to the point of mimicking his imagery in a very accurate manner.  Gorky’s obsession with Cezanne turned out to be an excellent launching pad into an original vision.  Gorky could instinctively avoid the dragon’s lair of Picasso.