January 30, 2002
An exhibition of ink drawings by Franz KLINE will open at the McKee Gallery, 745 Fifth Avenue, New York, 10151 (between 57th and 58th Streets) on Saturday, March 9, 2002.
Kline’s facility for drawing in ink is well-known, exemplified by his precocious skill as the school cartoonist at Lehighton High School in Pennsylvania. Later, while studying in London at Heatherly’s School of Fine Art, prior to World War II, Kline was definitively inspired by the drawing techniques of Rembrandt and of Charles Keene, an English caricaturist of the 19th Century. Both artists used pen and ink with great rapidity and an economy of line easily recognized in Kline’s mature drawing. He also acknowledged a youthful admiration for Hokusai which led to a lifelong interest in the concept of oriental space. In 1943, Kline met the painter Conrad Marca-Relli, his next door neighbor on West 4th Street, who introduced him to Willem de Kooning. Thus began a sequence of influential friendships cemented by studio visits and lively companionship in the Cedar Bar. Feverish discussions on art at the 8th Street Club were strongly influenced by a growing curiosity in Zen philosophy, which affected many of the New York artists. Kline’s profound interest in music and ballet supported his intuitive understanding of abstract form, and by 1949 the realistic subject matter of his formative years had been transformed into abstraction. Pen and pencil were replaced by the brush which emphasized the rich expressive potential of his line, while the increasingly calligraphic minimalism of his compositions created a sense of scale which begged to be enlarged. In this way many celebrated works of the Fifties were painted from drawings, done in brush and ink on paper or telephone book paper.
The exhibition closes on Saturday, April 20.