Willem de Kooning was born in Rotterdam, Holland on April 24, 1904. His father, Leenert, was a wine and beer distributor who won custody of young Willem when his parents separated about five years after his birth. His mother, Cornelia Nobel de Kooning, ran a tough seamen's bar, and snatched the boy back soon after. At the age of twelve, with elementary school behind him, de Kooning entered an informal apprenticeship with commercial artists and designers, Jan and Jaay Gidding, who also provided his art education. They enrolled him in night courses at the Rotterdam Akademie voor Beeldende Kunsten en Wettenschappen, where he studied academic art and crafts. His first jobs were in commercial art, inc
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