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Franz Kline

“I paint not the things I see but the feelings they arouse in me.”

“I don’t decide in advance that am going to paint a definite experience, but in the act of painting, it becomes a genuine experience for me.”

– Franz Kline

The Abstract Expressionists did share a common approach to artmaking: direct, often improvisational, and highly experiential. It was this method that allowed each artist to attain an autographic way of making work that could quickly be recognized as their own, a so-called “signature style.” They “wanted to believe that in the subjective process of painting itself they would find their own definition” explains critic Dore Ashton. Franz Kline was one such artist.


Kline Timeline:

  • 1910 Born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
  • 1919 Father commits suicide
  • 1930s Cartoonist at his school paper, good enough to leave to coal town for Boston University.
  • 1936 Moves moved to London, UK to attend Heatherley’s Art School .
  • 1938 Returns to US, settling in New York, eeking out a living with magazine illustration, portrait commissions and mural work.
  • 1943 Meets Willem de Kooning and with other artists, frequents the Cedar Tavern, along with Jackson Pollock and Philip Guston.
  • 1947 First uses a projector to enlarge a black and white ink drawing, discovering his signature style of amplified shapes and brushstrokes.
  • 1950 Achieves notoriety with first solo show of black and white abstract paintings and works on paper.
  • 1962 Dies from heart attack, age 52.
  • 1962 “Franz Kline Memorial Exhibition” at Washington Gallery of Modern Art.
  • 1963-1964 Curator and poet Frank O’Hara and the International Council at the Museum of Modern Art organize major Kline retrospective exhibition that travels to Amsterdam, Turin, Brussels, Basel, Vienna, London, Paris.

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