Franz Kline's story reads like a movie plot: Young artist starts out with high hopes, spends years struggling without success, eventually finds a style, becomes an "overnight sensation" and dies too soon. He left us with the understanding that one of the ways to approach Abstract Expressionism was through psychic vision. He couldn't explain what his paintings meant, because that wasn't their purpose. Kline's paintings were supposed to make one feel, not comprehend.
Movement, Style, School or Type of Art:
Date and Place of Birth:
May 23, 1910, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Young Franz, the cartoonist for his high school newspaper, was a good enough student to leave coal-mining country and attend Boston University. An ambitious budding artist, he went on from there to study at the Art Students League, and then Heatherly Art School in London. In 1938, he returned to the US with his British wife and settled in New York City.
Body of Work:
New York really didn't care much that it had talent back from England ready to take on the world. Franz struggled for years as a figurative artist, doing portraits (for two loyal patrons) that won him a modest reputation. He also painted city- and landscapes, and occasionally resorted to painting barroom murals to get up the rent money. In the mid 1940s, he met fellow artists Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock, and began to follow his own growing interest in trying new ways of painting.
Date and Place of Death:
May 13, 1962, New York City, New York
"The final test of a painting, theirs, mine, any other, is: does the painter's emotion come across?"