Franz Kline (Wilkes-Barre, USA, 1910 - New York, USA, 1962) finds an alternative context for the analysis of his work in this exhibition of work carried out between 1947 and 1961. His critical fortune was built on partial approaches and unresolved paradoxes and for not adjusting his painting to the evaluation and definition norms of American Abstract Expressionism and Action Painting. The exhibition at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía proposes the recognition of Kline’s role and pictorial positioning at the origin and development of the New York School, taken as a historical movement or cultural phenomenon located in that city during the post-war years, and whose aesthetic and technical ideas differed significantly from two of its leading figures: Jackson Pollock and William de Kooning. In the words of exhibition curator, Stephen C. Foster, "the exhibition structure is designed to reflect the internal structure of the body of Kline’s painted work, the articulation of a dialogue between the pieces and the nature of the issues raised during the various phases of Kline‘s work and the language designed to address the problems."
Kline's confrontation with his artistic environment, exhibition and criticism is taken as a starting point and we see that in the late Forties he acquires modern language and approaches expressionism as a training period, not as the beginning of language, according to Foster. That is, Kline does not privilege the act or practice of painting as a cathartic exercise, so that the ego of the artist is freed from the yoke of rational consciousness. On the contrary, and without falling into the painting of subjects, colour (defined as the constructive tension of two energies) dominates his work. Moreover, the existence of draft sketches and drawings and his obsession with what he calls closing the angles denotes the control exercised over the design and composition of his paintings.
The turn of the decade, which coincides with his first individual exhibition (Egan Gallery, New York, 1950), reveals the acquisition of his own language and the start of his experimental phase by reducing the palette to black and white. At this point, the exhibition aims to eradicate stereotypes that pervert a correct reading of Kline’s work, such as the calligraphic interpretation of paintings sustained by chromatic and spatial tensions between white and black, as in Third Avenue (1954) and Sabro (1956). Foster concludes that his "style" and his historiographical destiny are not valid terms "to explain the radicalism of Kline‘s Art"; by contrast, he proposes that in his circumstances and in his particular understanding of the practice of painting - which run counter to, on many points, the dominant and then considered modern painting - are the answers to elaborate on his art and identity.
Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona (March, 18 - June 5, 1994); Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (July 8 - September 11, 1994); Saarland Museum, Saarbrücken, Germany (December 11, 1994 - February 5, 1995)
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