Home > Art History, Uncategorized > Franz Kline on Display                                           

Franz Kline on Display                                           

December 2, 2010


“Painting” by Franz Kline, 1952

I have two enduring fascinations.  One is how someone gets the name the paint colors available in the hardware store; no easy task, with hundreds of shades of colors and a need to give them a verbal identity like the named shades of Crayola crayons.  I once painted my bathroom “pumpkin spice” and people asked the name of the color with enthusiasm.

My other enduring fascination is how someone decides what should be written on the museum wall placard next to a piece; what gets included in addition to the basic factual information of identifying the artist, the title of the work, date or dates of creation and the media.  The placard information needs to be brief, text seems to fall from somewhere between fifty to a hundred words, generally a paragraph or two.  

I found it odd that the text put next to this Franz Kline painting in the AIC focused on the methods of its creation.  Did someone deem that the most significant information to impart?  Was there a lack of information on this painting?  Did someone say “Eh, this boring thing is black and white lines” and just phone it in?

There is a fragmentary quote of Kline’s on the placard as describing his work as being “strokes expanding as entities in themselves” but the bulk of the data presented spoke to how the painting was made.  Specifically, that Kline tacked the canvas to a rigid wood panel to keep it very flat and taut while he was working on it, that he used house painter’s brushes, and despite the drips and appearance of a loose painting style, this work was adjusted and modified over a two month period prior to Franz Kline finishing with it.  Of all the placards I have read, this one has the most description on method of creation.

I would have expected art historical statements relevant to this being an Abstract Expressionist work and this painting as being an expression of the gestures of a brush making marks on a surface, in a way this is painting in its simplest form.  There could have been commentary about the gesture of the brush strokes and overall image as often being considered as having been inspired by or derived from the art of Asian calligraphy and that the artist contested this.  The placard told “how he made this”.    

Categories: Art History, Uncategorized
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