“I don’t decide in advance that I’m going to paint a definite experience,
but in the act of painting, it becomes a genuine experience for me…” Franz Kline.
The exceptional economy of certain compositions, prompted frequent speculation about the influence of oriental calligraphy, yet Kline denied such links. Instead he acknowledged that his vocabulary was sufficiently elemental to evoke the known or the recognizable while avoiding any literal references: ‘There are forms that are figurative to me…. I don’t have the feeling that something has to be completely non-associative as far as figure form is concerned.’
The allusions can perhaps be read as harsh rectilinear silhouettes of New York itself, as well as the mechanical presences of the artist’s youth in Pennsylvania. Moreover, even the handling of black and white can be interpreted as emotive, since the enamel paints create textural conflicts that reiterate the struggle of forces on the picture’s surface. Kline fostered intense tonal contrasts, often working at night under strong light, and his use of housepainter’s brushes strengthened this aura of immediacy; tiny splatters or inflections accompanying the black wedges enhanced their explosive velocity.
In the later 1950s such paintings as “Requiem” (1958) added a third type of work to his repertory, by allowing the previously clearcut monochrome divisions to merge into a more complex chiaroscuro, the emotional tone of which Kline may have had in mind when he mentioned in an interview in 1960 the ‘brooding quality’ of certain ‘impending forms’. [Extract : Franz Kline : MoMA]