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PRINT Summer 1975

Franz Kline’s Romantic Abstraction

To be right is the most terrific personal state that nobody is interested in.

—Kline in 1958 interview with Frank O’Hara

FRANZ KLINE IS FOREVER IDENTIFIED with large black-and-white paintings, ominous but often amiable and tender, that revealed him to be a major Abstract Expressionist when first exhibited in a one-man show at the Charles Egan Gallery late in 1950. Kline spent the rest of his life, a little more than ten years, developing, benefiting from, but also at times burdened by his irrevocable style, one too easily misinterpreted as blown-up Japanese calligraphy or a deafening series of pictorial thunderclaps. Actually his mature abstractions are filled with subtleties, soft-spoken variations on the themes of passion, gentility, resignation, conflict, celebration, solitude, and many others, all eagedy romantic. Kline’s big black-and-white style has its heroic side, but it is intimate

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