De Kooning’s use of line for emphasizing the structure of the composition is very impressive. The horizontal line at the right edge of the painting, near the figure’s shoulder superbly balances the composition. Without that line we would have difficulty moving away from the dominant figure. It provides not only a pull, it also completes a wonderful horizontal integrating division of the composition.
Another beauty is the line under the shoe which not only supports the figure it is also provides rhythmic support for the line above at knee level. There is another which shows us how sensitive and the thoroughness of de Kooning’s considerations. It’s the faint line in the orange area, connecting the men at their elbows.
De kooning was also working at conveying time in this painting as we see in the right arms of both figures. We see two positions of the arm in the dominant figure and at the hand of the other man. And I think this explains the dark rectangle in front of the indistinguishable hands of the dominant figure. There are basically two methods for conveying time. One by inviting the viewer to move (not physically, but in their mind) and the other is to indicate the movement of the subject which de Kooning used here. Both are very challenging.
I also would like to mention how the shoes are actually a pull, bringing us to the bottom. And a fantastic pause. The light mark at the left end of the line at knee level. It’s influence on the composition is superb!
I think his choice of not completing the legs of the man at the right is interesting and leaves us with an open consideration for discussion.