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Franz Kline (1910 – 1962)


American painter mainly associated with the Abstract Expressionist group which was centered, geographically, around New York, and temporally, in the 1940s and 1950s; but not limited to that setting.
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Franz Kline
..as a matter of fact it is nice to paint a happy picture after a sad one. I think there is a kind of loneliness in a lot of them which I donít think about as the fact that Iím lonely and therefore I paint lonely pictures, but I like kind of lonely things anyhow; so if the forms express that to me, there is a certain excitement that I have about that.. ..What I try to do is to create the painting so that the overall thing has the particular emotion; not just the forms in it.. ..in other words, thereís a particular static or heavy form that can have a look to it, an experience that translated through the form; so then it does have a mood. And when that is there, well then it becomes it becomes a painting whereas all the other pictures that have far more interesting shapes and so on, donít become that to me.í
Kline quotes
In Braque and Gris, they seemed to have idea of the organization beforehand in their mind. With Bonnard, he is organizing in front of you. You can tell in Leger just when he discovered how to make it like an engine.. ..Whatís wrong with that? You see it in Barney (= Barnett Newman) too, that he knows what a painting should be. He paints as he thinks painting should be, which his pretty heroic..
Kline
My old landscapes of Pennsylvania are worth so much now that I have to hide them, so I donít get put in a even higher tax bracket. For years nobody would pay a dime for them. Theyíre still the same paintings. They didnít get any better. I treasure them as much as my recent black and white abstracts.. ..My dealer was furious when I showed him my latest works. Iím returning to color. He tells me to ride it out and change when the fashion change. I told him no! I told him I paint each painting from the heart. I have followed my heart all my life. (1959)




Kline Franz quotes
There is imagery. Symbolism is a difficult idea. Iím not a symbolist. In other words, these are painting experiences. I donít decide in advance that am going to paint a definite experience, but in the act of painting, it becomes a genuine experience for me. Itís not symbolism any more than itís calligraphy. Iím not painting bridge constructions, skyscrapers or laundry tickets.. ..I donít paint a given object Ė a figure or a table; I paint an organization that becomes a painting.. ..itís not these things that get me started on a painting.. (1958)
Kline Franz
..Paint never seems to behave the same. Even the same paint doesnít, you know. In other words, if you use the same white or black or red, through the use of it, it never seems to be the same. It doesnít dry the same. It doesnít stay there and look at you the same way. Other things seem to affect it. There seems to be something that you can do so much with paint and after that you start murdering it..
Franz Kline quotes
When Jackson talked about painting he didnít usurp anything that wasnít himself. He didnít want to change anything, he wasnít using any outworn attitude about it, he was always himself. He just wanted to be in it (in the painting, fh) because he loved it. The response in the personís mind to that mysterious thing that has happened before has nothing to do with Ďwho did it firstí. Tomlin however, did hear these voices and in reference to his early work and its relation to Braque, I like him for that. He was not an academician of Cubism even then; he was an extremely personal and sensitive artist.
Franz Kline
Some of the pictures I work on a long time and they look as if Iíve knocked them out, you know, and there are other pictures that come off right away. The immediacy can be accomplished in a picture thatís been worked on for a long time just as well as if itís been done rapidly, you see. But I donít find that any of these things prove anything really.
Kline Franz quotes
The final test of painting, theirs, mine, any other, is; does the painterís emotion comes across?.. ..Procedure is the keyword.. ..The difference is that we (the Abstract expressionists, fh) donít begin with a definite sense of procedure. Itís free association from the start to the finished state. The old idea was to make use of your talent. This, we feel, is often to take the line of least resistance.. ..painters like Rothko, Pollock, Still, perhaps in reaction to the tendency to analyze which has dominated painting from Seurat to Albers, associate with very little analysis. A new form of expressionism inevitably followed. With De Kooning the procedure is continual change, and the immediacy of the change. With Jackson, itís the confidence you feel from the concentration of his energy in a given picture..í (1958)
Kline
There are moments or periods when it would be wonderful to plan something and do it and have the thing only do what you planned to do, and then, there are other times when the destruction of those planned things becomes interesting to you. So then, it becomes a question of destroying Ė of destroying the planned forms; itís like an escape, itís something to do, something to begin the situation. You yourself, you donít decide, but if you want to paint, you have to find out some way to start this thing off, whether it is painting it out or putting it in..
Kline Franz
..itís not an illusionistic thing. It just seems as though there are forms in some experience in your life that have an excitement for youÖ ..those sort of forms in your experience do, in some way, not dominate, but they become the things that you are involved with. I donít mean that squares becomes windows; after all, squares becomes heads, they becomes everything you know. I donít mean it in that sense. A curve or line or rhythmical relation do have, in some way, some psychological bearing, not only on the person who looks at them after theyíve been conceived but also they do have a lot to do with the creative being who is involved with wondering just how exiting it can be..
Franz Kline
You donít paint the way someone, by observing his life, thinks you have to paint, you paint the way you have to in order to give. Thatís life itself, and someone will look and say it is the product of knowing, but it has nothing to do with knowing, it has to do with giving. The question about knowing will naturally be wrong. When youíve finished giving, the look surprises you (yourself, fh) as anyone else. Some painters talking about painting are like a lot of kids dancing at a prom. An hour later you are too shy to get out on the floor.




Franz Kline quotes
I think that if you use long lines, they become Ė what could they be? The only thing they could be is either highways or architecture or bridges.
Franz Kline
People sometimes think I take a white canvas and paint a black sign on it,but this is not true.I paint the white as well as the black and the white is just as important.
Kline quotes
I do both: I make preliminary drawings, other times I paint directly, other times I start a painting and then paint it out so that it becomes another painting or nothing at all. If a painting doesnít work, throw it out. When I work from preliminary sketches, I donít just enlarge these drawings, but plan my areas in a large painting by using small drawings for separate areas. I combine them in a final painting, often adding to or subtracting from the original sketches.. ..There are certain canvases here in my studio - the little one over there Ė that Iíve worked on for a good six months Ė painting most of it out and then painting it over and over again. I think Iíve got it now. (1958)
Kline Franz
If youíre a painter, you are not alone. Thereís no way to be alone. You think and you care and youíre with all the people who care. You think you care and youíre with all the people who care, including the young people who donít know they do yet. Tomlin in his late paintings knew this, Jackson always knew it: that if you meant it enough..
Kline Franz quotes
..I donít think of my work as calligraphic. Critics also describe Jackson and De Kooning as calligraphic painters but calligraphy has nothing to do with us. Itís interesting that the Oriental critics never say this. The Oriental idea of space is an infinite space; it is not painted space, and ours is. In the first place, calligraphy is writing and I am not writing. People sometimes think I take a white canvas and paint a black sign on it, but this is not true. I paint the white as well as the black, and the white is just as important. (1958)
Franz Kline
I rather feel that painting is a form of drawing and the painting that I like has a form of drawing to it. I donít see how it could be disassociated from the nature of drawing.. ..I find in many cases a drawing has been the subject of the painting Ė that would be a preliminary stage to that particular painting.. ..the painting can develop something that is not at all related to the drawing and have no particular mood about it at all; itís just a cool kind of reality that has a series of involvements within it; and the pure excitement of those things happening within this form is enough for that particular panting..
Franz Kline quotes
If I feel a painting I'm working on doesn't have imagery or emotion, I paint it out and work over it until it does.
Franz Kline
I paint not the things I see but the feelings they arouse in me.
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