Painterly Listening: Musical Ekphrasis, de Kooning's Untitleds, and Feldman's de Kooning

Trevor James Smith, Tarleton State University

In this presentation, I explore ways in which three paintings by Willem de Kooning, all Untitled, may be used to analyze stylistic properties of Morton Feldman's work de Kooning. The work utilizes the concept of ekphrasis and Conceptual Integration Networks to develop an argument for understanding the work through a mode of listening I call "painterly listening", in which the music is experienced as causal to the creation of the visual work in the moment of observation. The work suggests that some abstract reciprocal relationships may necessarily lean on well-established principals in perception, namely gestalt principals of organization, such as figure-ground organization, laws of continuity, and the law of common fate. Furthermore, the work advocates for an approach to analyzing ekphrastic connections between works that do not directly reference each other but have stylistic or intertextual connections.