Date 1956
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 202 x 120.5 cm
Inventory ID UID 102-308
Franz Kline would often recall his origins: the austere landscape of the Pennsylvania mining country, with its mineheads, rail bridges and trains, where he was born in 1910 to a German father and an English mother. He grew up under harsh conditions, and his father committed suicide in 1917. After studying in Boston and London, in 1949 Kline began creating numerous large-scale works, which he painted in black lacquer on newsprint with brushstrokes eight centimetres wide, choosing materials used in the construction industry. Exaggerated and amplified, all these swiftly brushed black lines tend towards a type of landscape, or even seem to form a sort of plastic alphabet. Kline was the first abstract expressionist painter to limit himself strictly to black and white, and David Anfam has linked his work to photography, especially the images of Robert Frank. Six years younger than his friend Willem de Kooning, Kline was exhibited among the young talents of New York chosen by the critics Clement Greenberg and Meyer Schapiro in 1950, and later by the curator Leo Castelli. Like Pierre Soulages in France during the same period, Kline continued his exploration of black and white images on a grand scale. Although comparisons have often been made, his paintings have no connection with Japanese calligraphy: 'Space, according to the oriental conception, is infinite; it is not a painted space, whereas mine is... Calligraphy is writing, and I do not write.’ J-FC