Lisa de Kooning, who lived in Springs and was the only child of the famed artist Willem de Kooning, died on Friday. She was 56.
According to Amy Schichtel, Collections Curator of the Johanna Liesbeth de Kooning Trust, Johanna Liesbeth ("Lisa") de Kooning died on Friday at her home on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Her cause of death has not yet been determined.
Born on Jan. 29, 1956 in New York, she was the only child of her famed Abstract-Expressionist father Willem de Kooning and illustrator Joan Ward. She is survived by her three children, Isabel, Emma, and Lucy de Kooning Villeneuve.
A shining light in preserving her father's rich legacy, Lisa de Kooning grew up in Manhattan and then, in Springs, after her father built his legendary studio in East Hampton.
Establishing a foundation in her father's name, and a trust for her own collection of Willem de Kooning's work, Lisa de Kooning took great care in nurturing his legacy and in preserving his studio and keeping it intact, as he left it, for future generations of children, artists, educators and scholars.
In addition, Lisa de Kooning represented her father publicly on occasions such as the installation of his outdoor sculpture in Rotterdam, the city where he was born.
A sculptor herself, Lisa de Kooning dedicated much of her life to philanthropy, opening her heart to causes including art, children and animals, raising money for and donating to Boys and Girls Harbor, Art for Animals, the Isamu Noguchi Foundation, and local East End charities and art programs, such as the East Hampton Day Care Learning Center, Ladies Village Improvement Society, the Springs Fire Department, LongHouse Reserve and Robert Wilson’s Byrd Hoffman Water Mill Foundation.
In St. John, her tradition of giving continued: In recent years, Lisa de Kooning contributed to the Virgin Islands National Park and to Team River Runner’s Wounded Veterans USVI program.
Those who loved her remember Lisa de Kooning not only for her dedication to the arts and to her local communities, but for her innate good will and kindness toward all she encountered in her daily life.
Willem de Kooning, one of the most prolific abstract expressionist artists of the 20th century, died in 1997. A retrospectve exhibition "de Kooning: A Retrospective" was on display at MoMA in New York City last year.
His daughter was co-executor of her father's estate with attorney John Eastman, the son of her father's longtime attorney Lee Eastman, since 1989, as he suffered from Alzheimer's.
He had a relationship with her mother, Joan Ward, during one separation from his wife, the well-known artist Elaine de Kooning, according to The New York Times.
Mary McPartland, who lives next door to Ward's estate, on Accabonac Road and Lilla Lane across from across from the Green River Cemetery, said she was heartbroken to hear the news.
"We have enjoyed being their neighbors and watching the girls grow up," McPartland said, adding that Lisa de Kooning was generous in allowing her neighbors to use the pool and grounds after her mother's death. "It is a remarkable property, impeccably kept and a piece of old East Hampton — a true Springs treasure painstakingly kept in its simplicity and utter beauty."
DeKooning lived on Woodbine Drive in Springs with her children.
"Lisa has been a very positive influence on this community, with her open house holiday celebrations and involvement in Springs School," said McPartland, who is also a Springs School parent. "To think in such a small, rural location, our kids would take field trips to the studio of a renowned artist and have Christmas parties with Willem de Koonig's grandchildren amidst his amazing artwork — what a special lady. She did a wonderful job raising her children and bringing her father's gifts to our local kids. Most definitely, we will miss her deeply."
Funeral services will be private.