Woman I, 1950-52 by Willem de Kooning

De Kooning famously said, "Flesh is the reason oil paint was invented," and although he often worked in an abstract style he continually returned to the figure. Woman, I took an unusually long time to complete. De Kooning made numerous preliminary studies then repainted the canvas repeatedly, eventually arriving at this hulking, wild-eyed figure of a woman. An amalgam of female archetypes, from a Paleolithic fertility goddess to a 1950s pinup girl, her threatening gaze and ferocious grin are heightened by de Kooning's aggressive brushwork and intensely colored palette.

De Kooning took an unusually long time to create Woman, I, making numerous preliminary studies and repainting the work repeatedly. The hulking, wild-eyed subject draws upon an amalgam of female archetypes, from Paleolithic fertility goddesses to contemporary pin-up girls. Her threatening stare and ferocious grin are heightened by de Kooning's aggressive brushwork and frantic paint application. Combining voluptuousness and menace, Woman, I reflects the age-old cultural ambivalence between reverence for and fear of the power of the feminine.

Quote from MOMA