What I do know is that somewhere along the line, we gave away our power to appreciate art. I'm not sure if we donated it, or someone hijacked it, but gradually the score card became controlled by a small group of critics, curators and collectors (whom I'll call the C-squad).
In that concept of "nothing," he may have captured the magic of art. Great art captures that nothing in a way that creates a chemical explosion within the viewer. We may not be able to articulate it in words, but we feel it. We know we "like" it; we feel a connection to it. However, since each of us is different, the art that creates an explosion within me, may not be the art that connects with you.
This is the point where art got hijacked. The C-squad added the world "should" to the equation and designated which art contained the nothing that people should connect with. You should respond to Picasso. You should not respond to Kincaide. I think de Kooning might respond with a blunt B.S.
I also think de Kooning would like being alive today and would approve of the new world of art making and art buying. While the C-squad is still active, it seems to be losing some of its grip on the masses. Millions of artists are quietly working away in their own studios, trying to capture their inner worlds in pigment, clay and dozens of other media. Some make work to sell, most are just following their own calling. At the same time, in art fairs, galleries and in-home exhibits, people are responding to the "nothing" that appears in paintings, sculpture, photography, quilts, glasswork and other forms ... buying what causes the chemical explosions within themselves without waiting for the official word from the C-squad.
Through the growing number of local art events and the Internet, we are gradually waking up to our own authority to know what it is we like, knowing that if we like it, if it creates that explosion of connection within us, it is great art.