Lisa de Kooning an artist and philanthropist and the only child of the Abstract Expressionist painter Willem de Kooning has died at the age of 56. The Curator of the Johanna Liesbeth de Kooning Trust, Amy Schichtel, stated “Johanna Liesbeth (“Lisa”) de Kooning died on Friday at her home on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands”.
The cause of her death is not yet known. However police are investigating the cause of her death, according to the local newspaper, The St Thomas Source, “The article indicated police were called to de Kooning’s Estate at about 2:30 a.m. after another person in the house discovered her unresponsive. The male told police that he escorted de Kooning from her living room to her bedroom after she had finished drinking some wine. She instructed him to lock her home office so he left her in the bedroom. While locking the office he heard a loud noise like someone collapsing and discovered she was lying on the floor outside of her bedroom. The witness said he tried to communicate with de Kooning but she was unresponsive. He said he picked her up, placed her on her bed and called 911. Emergency medical technicians said she had no vital signs at the scene. They removed her from the home. This case remains under active investigation”.
Born 29 January 1956 in New York City, Lisa was the only offspring of her well known painter father, Willem de Kooning and the illustrator Joan Ward. She is survived by her three children, Isabel, Emma, and Lucy de Kooning Villeneuve.Lisa was a popular figure in East Hampton who dedicated much of her life to preserving her father’s important legacy, Ms de Kooning grew up in Manhattan and then moved to Springs, when her father built his famous studio in the Hamptons. She established a foundation in her father’s name, and a trust for her own collection of Willem de Kooning’s work, Lisa took great care in protecting his legacy by preserving his studio as a foundation. It remained 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 and at last years MOMA retrospective.
An exhibiting sculptor herself, Lisa de Kooning dedicated much of her life to charity work, supporting such 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 recent years, after establishing a home in St. John, she became active in its local causes, contributing to the Virgin Islands National Park and to Team River Runner’s Wounded Veterans USVI program. Like her father, however, she did not confine her generosity to established charities.
Lisa de Kooning, photo credit: Barry Gordin