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Lawrence Alexander Willette (1952-2005)

L.A. Willette was a dynamic painter whose abstractions are as sensual as his female nudes. Both were executed in bold slashing strokes, informed by strong draftsmanship. Willette had assimilated the lessons of the Abstract Expressionists and applied them in a powerful postmodern manner to create paintings with flowing contours and brilliant colors, emphasized by firm black outlines. His virtuoso brushwork imbues his large canvases with a tremendous sense of energy.
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L.A.Willette About
Lawrence Alexander Willette
Lawrence Alexander Willette
Lawrence Alexander Willette
Lawrence Alexander Willette
Lawrence Alexander Willette
Lawrence Alexander Willette
Lawrence Alexander Willette
Lawrence Alexander Willette

Born in Manhattan on March 16th 1952, Lawrence Alexander Willette cultivated his prowess as an abstract expressionist and has since mastered several other genres of painting over the years as a professional artist.
Before even finishing his years as an undergraduate at S.U.N.Y, he had a stint teaching graduate classes in the BFA program, where he came under the tutelage of two masters painters: Alexander Minewski, a protégé of Matisse, and Joop Sanders, a friend and compatriot of Willem de Kooning. The result being an influence based on the poetry of Matisse's nudes and the compositional complexities of abstract expressionism.

In 1978, after graduating, he concurrently founded The Westbeth Painting Cooperative & Gallery in Manhattan. As the resident playwright he wrote the farce Waiting for the Dough, produced by Westbeth Theatre Center, incorporating his abstract and figurative mural size paintings as the set. Upon visiting his studio at Westbeth, Elaine DeKooning said: "If Bill (de Kooning) was still painting women, he'd be doing what you're doing". Various professional ventures, "odd" jobs and small shows in small towns, led to national exposure with an international print ad campaign for Cointreau Liqueur featuring his art. International shows soon followed in Miami, Chicago, Bryn Mawr, Paris, London, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Luxemburg and Bologna.

During the 1980's, Willette showed at some SoHo galleries in New York, and after meeting Andy Warhol became inspired to produce his own arts magazine: The Metropolitan Muse, which showcases his nude photography and fiction and The Willette Gazzette, which were published quarterly.

Lawrence Alexander Willette died Sunday morning, November 13th 2005 at Beth Israel Hospital in New York City due to complications from cancer. He was 53 years old.

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Lawrence Willette, painter, died in New York City on Nov. 13, after a short struggle against intestinal cancer. He was 53 years old.

Many will remember Lawrence as the artist who displayed his paintings on the southwest corner of W. Broadway and Prince St. in Soho for well over a decade. His paintings were bold, graphic, colorful, brilliant and potent. At times they were also confrontational and rude. The same could be said about the artist.

Not many people know that Lawrence was half African-American. He certainly did not appear to be. His long blond hair and light complexion did not give a hint of his ethnicity. He rarely mentioned it, but the fact is, that it became a problem for him as a youngster. He told me that he took a lot of grief from those who thought he looked “too white,” and so he became defensive and overcompensated to the point of being abrasive.

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Anyone walking down West Broadway on a warm spring afternoon would have to notice the black leather jacket and tousled blonde hair of the artist selling paintings and holding court on the corner of Prince Street. L.A. Willette was a fixture on New York's downtown art scene. His passionate self-expression decorated NYC's art galleries, restaurants, clubs, and store windows for over thirty years.

L.A. Willette died Sunday morning, November 13th of cancer. He fell ill only months earlier, having delayed a visit to the doctor.

Mr. Willette was a second-generation abstract expressionist who specialized in explosive, thickly-painted nudes, abstracts and cityscapes, blazing with color and motion. Elaine de Kooning said about Mr. Willette, during a visit to his studio, "If Bill [de Kooning] was still painting women, he'd be doing what you're doing". Over the years, Willette had mastered collage and other techniques, pouring his energy nonstop into an evolving body of artworks, writing, and photography.

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  1. Googling Larry Willette
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  3. Friends of L.A.Willette
  4. Artist In Passing
  5. My friend in NYC is missing

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