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"Untitled (King of Israel)" is a kind of Picassoid portrait, but also a biological and geological cross-section - with a crown of thorns - whose twisted, patterned strata form both an automatist cartography and a tortured body.
From the elegantly Picassoid "Seated Woman" (1940) to the breakthrough 1950 "Excavation," de Kooning took on the task of reconciling the rigid infrastructure and woozy subconscious of modem painting with the sheer talent of the old masters.
This is also the title of the first painting in the catalog, a picture of either three musicians playing saxophones with the sound pouring from the instruments as squiggly drips of red paint, or a picture of one musician with three heads each playing a saxophone, a sort of Picassoid Rahsaan Roland Kirk.
The objects on view in Santiago Calatrava: Clay and Paint, Ceramics and Watercolor, a concurrent show at the nearby Queen Sofía Spanish Institute, had much in common with the frieze-like drawings the architect created for his Metropolitan exhibition — Picassoid bulls in charcoal and Matissesque odalisques in red chalk.
Perhaps Pène du Bois’ vexed relationship with modernism — exemplified at Graham by Another Expulsion (1950), in which Masaccio’s Adam and Eve are given the bum’s rush from a temple of art by a towering Picassoid creature — makes him seem too philistine for contemporary tastemakers.