Franz Kline

Born in 1910, painter Franz Kline was a New York based artist whose work epitomized the Abstract Expressionism movement. Kline was raised in Pennsylvania until he attended the Girard College, a school created for children of single-parent households. He later attended Boston University. After graduating from B.U. in 1935, he studied in London at the Heatherley School of Art from 1937-1938. Kline was influenced by his friend Willem de Kooning along with Japanese calligraphy to create his own artistic style. Kline’s paintings also saw influence from the tones and colors he knew so well from growing up in Pennsylvania’s coal-mining region. Kline is known for using a style often called action painting, or gestural abstraction, a style of painting in which the artist seems to spontaneously splash and smear paint across a canvas instead of focusing on detail. The truth was that Kline would often say “spontaneity is practiced” and most of his work was the final draft of many sketches and drafts. Kline is most well-known for his paintings that are black and white, though he does have many works in color. In 1950, Kline had a one-man show at the Charles Egan Gallery in New York City that established Kline as a unique and innovative artist. Kline’s works were considered unstable and unbalanced, making them extremely provocative at the time. Much like his fellow Abstract Expressionists, Kline strove to maintain a particular “style” within his paintings. Using sweeps and odd curves, Kline’s monolithic paintings were completely his own. Though Kline quickly gained recognition in the 1950s, his success was cut short by his death in 1962. Kline died from rheumatic heart disease. Kline’s work can be seen across the nation at places like MOMA and many other contemporary art galleries.

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