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Photo by Kate Edwards

Lucy de Kooning Villeneuve’s
Curatorial Debut at Pace

Lucy de Kooning Villeneuve’s curatorial debut was a one-night exhibition that began before setting foot inside Pace Gallery’s space at 508 West 25th Street. Stationed beneath an overpass that shields the gallery, and just above its doors, was a machine that surrounded the entrance with bubbles, a joyful gesture that Villeneuve dedicated to her effervescent mother, Lisa de Kooning.

It’s been less than a year since the untimely passing of Willem de Kooning’s only daughter, and in that time seventeen-year-old Lucy has made significant steps in solidifying her family’s artistic legacy. She has chosen to maintain the summer artist residency program her mother established at her grandfather’s studio in East Hampton, New York and with this exhibition expressed her commitment to the support of emerging artists.

Showing selected works by Aakash Nihalani and Carlos Soto, two alumni of the summer residency program at the de Kooning studio, and Alexander Massouras, a painter whose work Lucy’s late mother had instantly appreciated, the exhibition explored the adaptation of space in various mediums.

In the gallery’s largest room Nihalani’s isometric designs dressed the walls and the floor with brightly colored trompe l’oeil geometrics that produce 3-D effects with nothing more than precisely placed tape and corrugated board.

In contrast to Nihalani’s abstracts were Massouras’s sharply observed etchings and paintings. Including pieces from his “Diver” and “Lens Flair” series, Massouras’s work provides a more traditional, painterly reinterpretation of reality and space. While each predominantly black “Diver” painting conjures ideas of depth, volume, buoyancy, and a hint of existentialist dread, his “Lens Flair” series aims to accurately recreate the photographic effects of soft focus and lens flair, producing beautiful paintings with an abstract air.

The rear of the gallery was reserved for a video project created by Soto, a theater and performance artist whose very first film provided an effective finale to the show. Created during Soto’s residency at the de Kooning studio last summer, the film employs Lisa de Kooning’s own 1960s Mustang convertible as a mobile mount for a camera that catalogues the quiet, nighttime streets that surround the de Kooning studio. Accompanied by the melodic, blues-infused drawl of an electric guitar, the visuals transition slowly from shots of treetops passing overhead to lyrical images taken from within the car. A mesmerizing piece, the film pulls the viewer through space and in the direction of the car’s motion in an effect produced by keen frame-rate manipulation.

Photo credit: Joanne Kim O’Connor

In all, it was a collection of work that roundly explored its subject, and we asked the first-time “curator” (she doesn’t like using the word for herself) a few questions about the experience.

WHITEWALL: The artwork being shown tonight provides a pleasant mix of forms. Can you tell us a little bit about why you brought these artists together?

LUCY DE KOONING VILLENEUVE: I think what is truly captivating about seeing all three artist’s work together is how they each have components that play with the viewer’s perception of space and depth. Aakash with his 3D neon shapes of tape on wall or floor; Alex with his diver and flare paintings, drawings and etchings; and Carlos with his video work, are all questioning the viewer’s perception.

WW: Your family has a long, fruitful relationship with Pace Gallery.

LDKV: Working with Pace has been simply amazing on many levels. The Glimchers are really like an extended part of the family and have been incredibly supportive this past year. Andrea Glimcher has been an amazing mentor and friend in one of the most difficult times of my life.

WW: You’ve said you’re excited to continue championing emerging artists, and we’re curious to know, what role do you see curation playing in the development of an artist and his or her work?

Aakash Nihalani, Andrea Glimcher, Lucy de Kooning-Villeneuve, Carlos Soto, Alexander Massouras

LDKV: To be honest, I feel the term curating is slightly bigger than my approach. Considering this is my second week of college, I wouldn’t recognize myself as a curator. However, what I have witnessed from observing the residency program is that the creative exchange between artists, while drawing inspiration from the atmosphere of my grandfather’s studio, can be beneficial to their work in many ways.

WW: It’s encouraging to hear that you’ll be helping to continue the residency program that your mother started at your grandfather’s studio. How involved are you in the decision-making process for the program?

LDKV: Very much involved. I realize that I am not an acclaimed curator nor have I had years of experience to judge anyone’s skill or value, but I think I have pretty solid intuition and I am surrounded by a good team of people who will help me grow and remain focused.




On view now through September 15, 2024, is a major exhibition of the artist Willem de Kooning, focusing on his time in Italy.
From exploring the fantastical world to merging cultural identities, there is something for everyone in Los Angeles' galleries this spring.
Tara Donovan’s solo exhibition “Intermediaries” is a collection of connected bodies of work transforming commonplace materials into objects that push the viewer’s conceptual limits.


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