Mimi Kilgore, art patron and de Kooning’s muse, dies at the age of 87

The two met in August 1970 at a party at the home of the Iranian painter Manoucher Yektai in Bridgehampton. Kilgore recalled in an interview with Mr. Stevens. “I don’t think I was aware that anything else was going on. And we just talked and looked straight at each other for a long, long time. And then he left and said, ‘Will I ever see you again?’”

He often did this for decades. She visited him until his death in 1997, even after he slipped into dementia in the 1980s. Although the two were never a couple in the formal sense (Ms. Kilgore lived mostly in Texas), they attended art fairs like the Venice Biennale and mingled with other artists in New York at nightclubs Max’s Kansas City and Fanelli Cafe for a time-honoured Pub in SoHo.

In the bohemian art world of post-war New York, appetites for licentiousness tended to be large and sexual mores loose, with relationships and romantic partners constantly changing.

For de Kooning, the relationship with Ms. Kilgore proved transformative. Prone to melancholy and inclined to epic bends, he was going through a difficult period in life when he met her, Mr. Stevens said in a phone interview. First off, he was involved in stressful relationships with both his wife, the artist Elaine de Kooning, and Joan Ward, the mother of his daughter Lisa.

Woman. Kilgore offered an escape. “He loved show tunes,” she said in an interview with Mr. Stevens. “We sang songs together. I loved dancing, so I danced. And do cartwheels in front of the studio near a pavilion.” She tried to teach him to tango, she said, but “his feet were too big”.

Here de Kooning enchants the joie de vivre. “I love you forever, wherever you are,” he wrote in a letter to Ms. Kilgore. “You finished me… You are with me all the time, even when you are not with me.”

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