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Franz Kline [Hardcover]

Harry F. Gaugh
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Feb. 1 1994
Franz Kline (1910–1962) was a leading figure among the Abstract Expressionists: his energetic black strokes on a white field are as recognizable as Jackson Pollock’s drips or Mark Rothko’s rectangles of glowing color. Kline’s mature works of the 1950s display an astonishing mastery, locking contending forces into architectonic configurations that seem even larger than their actual size, which is considerable. According to an oft-repeated story, Kline arrived at his signature style in a single moment of inspiration, when he saw the individual strokes of one of his figurative drawings blown up to an enormous size with an opaque projector.

The reality, of course, was somewhat more complex, as Harry F. Gaugh reveals in this sensitively written account of Kline’s career. Drawing on extensive interviews with Kline’s associates, Gaugh traces the artist’s development through his early training as an illustrator in Boston and London; his penniless years in Greenwich Village, turning out figurative canvases for a few devoted patrons (and murals for barroom walls); and the progressive experiments with abstraction that finally led to his famous breakthrough. Gaugh also reminds us of the depth of Kline’s oeuvre; in truth, the artist had never confined himself entirely to black and white, and before his untimely death he had begun a series of vibrantly colored canvases. The text is complemented by 170 illustrations, reproducing an ample selection of Kline’s work, as well as notes on conservation and technique, and a detailed chronology.

A model of art-historical writing, Franz Kline is, remarkably, still the only available monograph on its subject. It belongs on the book shelf of everyone with an interest in American painting.

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Product Description

From Library Journal

This was hailed as the definitive volume on artist Kline at its 1985 debut. Along with 170 illustrations (100 color, 70 b&w), the book includes interviews with Kline's friends and critics as well as material from his letters.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"A sympathetic, though unsparing, account of the artist's life is interwoven expertly with the history of his work, resulting in an exemplary study of a contemporary painter's career." (San Francisco Examiner-Chronicle)

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A COMPELLING STUDY April 12 2002
By Gail Cooke TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Franz Kline (1910 - 1962), surely one of the most individual artists, began as a representational painter, focusing largely on landscapes. It was in the latter 1940s that he began his landmark exploration of abstractionism, achieving plaudits with his black and white presentations.
Art historian and teacher Dr. Harry Gaugh spent some two decades researching the life and work of Kline. This amazing volume is testament to his study. "Franz Kline" holds over 170 illustrations and a fascinating account of the life of this landmark artist who died far too young at 51 years of age.
Dr. Gaugh utilizes interviews and correspondence (including Kline's personal letters) to offer a vivid picture of the artist as a student in Boston and London , then later as a part of Greenwich Village where he executed bar murals to keep the wolf from the door.
Kline's development as an artist is a compelling study, and an evocation of an important time in our cultural history.
- Gail Cooke
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A COMPELLING STUDY April 12 2002
By Gail Cooke - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Franz Kline (1910 - 1962), surely one of the most individual artists, began as a representational painter, focusing largely on landscapes. It was in the latter 1940s that he began his landmark exploration of abstractionism, achieving plaudits with his black and white presentations.
Art historian and teacher Dr. Harry Gaugh spent some two decades researching the life and work of Kline. This amazing volume is testament to his study. "Franz Kline" holds over 170 illustrations and a fascinating account of the life of this landmark artist who died far too young at 51 years of age.
Dr. Gaugh utilizes interviews and correspondence (including Kline's personal letters) to offer a vivid picture of the artist as a student in Boston and London , then later as a part of Greenwich Village where he executed bar murals to keep the wolf from the door.
Kline's development as an artist is a compelling study, and an evocation of an important time in our cultural history.
- Gail Cooke
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Complete Kline May 6 2007
By Reich Claude - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is a very complete and enlightening survey of Kline's art. The author chronogically covers all the aspects of the artist's oeuvre and, though it was written some 22 years ago, this publication is a must-have for anyone interested in the abstract expressionist movement. Many major paintings are thoroughly described, the text quotes many friends of Kline's (dealers and critics)stating previously unpublished opinions and is a rich trove of information.

The illustrations are unfortunately not as good as they would have been had the book been published more recently, which is why I do not give it 5 stars.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Most Thorough Kline Volume To Date Dec 11 2010
By disco75 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book was released a decade earlier as *The Vital Gesture* to accompany a Kline retrospective of 1985. As such, it is composed essentially as a review of the artwork, focusing on the shifts from figural to abstract painting, the mediums Kline used, the painterly techniques, and the topics of the paintings that can be discerned from what is known about Kline's life and companions. Gaugh uses an academic approach to compare the works contained within, a mix of color and B&W reproductions. The language is therefore skewed to art-historian and gallerist modes, slightly jargon-laden but generally accessible to the lay reader.

Gaugh presents the most comprehensive source of biographical information about Kline available to readers. His goal is to theorize about the art, however, and he is not presenting a biography as such. The life of the man is not the theme, but merely supporting material in analyzing the paintings. Kline's motives, formative experiences, and relationships are not surveyed except anecdotally in service of understanding the art. In this way, it not until the last quarter of the book that it is mentioned that Kline's father committed suicide when he was 7, and that he lived in a fatherless-boys' boarding school for 11 years, even after his mother remarried. Such watershed events, like the years of institutionalization of his schizophrenic wife in a state hospital, cry out for a psychological biography of Kline, particularly at a time when readers have access to detailed tomes about Pollock, de Kooning, Rothko, etc. Until such time as a genuine biography arrives, Gaugh's volume is the most complete account of this well-regarded Cedar Bar habitue.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Kline, manque Oct. 24 2011
By Chauncey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Franz Kline is a towering figure in the history of "abstract expressionism". As such, he is given a worthy, but not fulfilling, book by Mr Gaugh, who was the first to take advantage of the dearth of Kline studies and print a book about his work.
Unfortunately, Mr Gaugh's enthusiasm is not enough to cover the man adequately. And his emphasis on the very late colored works is a mis-balancing of the oeuvre. Still, the book is all we have at the moment. Whoever designed the layout and decided the relative sizes of the reproductions is greatly at fault. Small works are shown in large size, some are cropped, and some large paintings are trivialized by small reproduction. And the type design is wrong-headed, too. Large type and wide measures do not make for easier reading.
It's time we had a fuller, more insightful volume, better-designed and packed with large reproductions of superb fidelity, of the work of the great 20th century painter, Franz Kline. A catalogue raisonne would be welcome, also--something along the lines of the magisterial tome by David Anfam on Rothko's work. Where are the scholars, the curators, the artist-writers to do the job?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a prize!! April 12 2011
By yumyumpie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It's a beautiful book. Surprisingly, the type is larger than usual and that allows the text relating to a painting to be right with the associated picture. The photos are large and well-colored and the biographical info is well done. I am most interested in Kline's non-calligraphic paintings and as a struggling painter, I am learning a lot from Kline's work. I can recommend it for those who just like to look, as well as those who are working at the craft of painting.
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