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Corina E. Rogge with Zahira Véliz Bomford
This book offers the most detailed investigation thus far of the materials and methods of this key American Abstract Expressionist artist.
Although Franz Kline was one of the seminal figures of the American Abstract Expressionist movement, he is less well known than contemporaries such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. This is partly because Kline, unlike most artists in his circle, did not like to write or talk about his own art. In fact, when asked in a panel to discuss abstract art, Kline said, “I thought that was the reason for trying to do it, because you couldn’t [talk about it].” Still, his impact was such that the critic and art historian April Kingsley wrote, “Abstract Expressionism as a movement died with him.”
This volume, the newest addition to the Artist’s Materials series from the Getty Conservation Institute, looks closely at both Kline's life and work, from his early years in Pennsylvania to his later success in New York City. Kline's iconic paintings are poised on a critical cusp: some have already undergone conservation, but others remain unaltered and retain the artist’s color, gloss, and texture, and they are surprisingly vulnerable. The authors’ presentation of rigorous examination and scientific analysis of more than thirty of Kline’s paintings from the 1930s through the 1960s provides invaluable insight into his life, materials, and techniques. This study provides conservators with essential information that will shape future strategies for the care of Kline’s paintings, and offers readers a more thorough comprehension of this underappreciated artist who is so central to American Abstract Expressionism.
Corina E. Rogge is the Andrew W. Mellon Research Scientist at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Menil Collection. Zahira Véliz Bomford is an independent art historian and art conservator based in London.
“This comprehensive account of the art and career of Franz Kline is a model of sophisticated, multifaceted inquiry. It assesses a mass of documentary and anecdotal information—witness accounts, interviews, the artist’s own statements—while integrating these elements of historical analysis with thorough technical investigations of major works. Questions related to Kline’s problematic 'spontaneity' and 'action,' which have so often devolved into wrangling over terminology, now stand on solid ground due to the convincing material studies conducted by Rogge and her team.”
—Richard Shiff, Effie Marie Cain Regents Chair in Art, The University of Texas at Austin
"Franz Kline's abstract paintings in white and black are among the most celebrated―and instantly visually impactful―works of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Corina Rogge and her collaborators have produced the first scientific study of Kline's materials and methods. Fluently written and full of new technical analyses, this illuminating book helps us to better see and understand the many different whites, and blacks, and colors that Kline used in his paintings. It will be required reading for serious scholars of Kline, and important for anyone who wants to understand the experimental means by which Kline developed the particular punch of his signature style.”
—AnnMarie Perl, Associate Research Scholar and Lecturer, Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University
“This book is an essential addition to the Franz Kline literature as well as the scholarship on painting conservation. It provides the first thorough investigation of Kline’s materials and techniques through intensive analysis of a substantial number of works. These technical studies are interwoven with an overview of Kline’s biography and historical position.”
—Robert S. Mattison, author of the catalogue raisonné Franz Kline Paintings, 1950–1962
7 1/2 x 10 inches
68 color and 23 b/w illustrations
Imprint: Getty Conservation Institute
Series: The Artist's Materials
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