Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Elaine de Kooning became a noted Abstract Expressionist painter. However, like many women artists of that era who married artists, her career was sublimated to that of her famous husband, Willem de Kooning. They became the leaders of the New York School social set in the 1940s, 50s and 60.
Unlike many of her contemporaries, she did not completely abandon realism, and much of her career was devoted to portraiture for which she was known in the 1950s and 60s. One of her most famous commissions was for President John F. Kennedy, which was in process at the time of the assassination.