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March 06, 2009

Donald's Fave Abstract Expressionist

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Although I believe that Modernism in painting was an interesting experiment that has continued far longer than it should have and that the Abstract Expressionism school of 1945-1960 New York was an artistic dead end, I don't dislike it all.

This might surprise some readers, given the usual content of my painting postings. My main objection to Modernism is the elitist tendency of many its supporters over the years to heap scorn on traditional painting. I, like the beloved Chairman Mao, believe in letting many flowers bloom, and I don't like being told (as I was when in college) that only Modernism counts.

So just how much Modernist painting do I like? Not much of it, truth be told. Though I do have affection for the works of Franz Kline (1910-1962) who died at far too young an age (ten days short of his 52nd birthday).

What do I like about Kline's paintings? Their boldness and strong composition; I'm not that much into subtlety.

As with all artists, some works are better than others; below are some of the nicer Klines.


Franz Kline

New York, N.Y. - 1953

Orange Outline - 1955

Buttress - 1956

I might post on other Modernists from time to time.



posted by Donald at March 6, 2009


Kline manages something that no other painter, with the possible exception of George Bellows, has ever accomplished. He gives us the power and gravity of our American industrial landscape in monumental images, and at the same time the sense that those images are on the verge of sliding away, dissolving into other images, colliding with other images, breaking up; something like what we see as we drive through that very industrial landscape. Call it monumentality and dynamism. Bellows did it with more recognizable but simultaneously "dissolving/colliding" views up the Hudson or across to the Palisades or looking down into Manhattan construction digs at night.

Kline was born in the Pennsylvania coal country and he never stopped referring to its hard, searing face.

It is a great misunderstanding and a loss that Kline (among some other contemporaries) has been cubby-holed as an abstractionist. There is nothing vague or disconnected about his work.

Posted by: ricpic on March 6, 2009 5:17 PM

Give me a break, ricpic, all that pontificating you did on Kline's qualities as a painter is not different than others have done here regarding other abstract painters. You just happen to like Kline. Cool. I think he's alright as well. But don't try to separate him from other abstract painters just because you like his work, but don't like the idea of the abstract movement as a whole.

Posted by: JV on March 6, 2009 5:39 PM

Pupu loves Kline's works. They are like calligraphy.

Posted by: Pupu on March 9, 2009 1:51 AM

Are you kidding me? This stuff is junk! Five minute paintings! What a genius!

Posted by: BTM on March 9, 2009 7:37 PM

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