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Franz Kline

Hazelton

1957

In 1950, Franz Kline brought his drawings to Willem de Kooning’s studio. Using the Bell Opticon opaque projector with which de Kooning had been experimenting, Kline magnified one of his sketches to a size that rendered its subject unrecognizable— instead of depicting a chair, it revealed a monumental confluence of line and shape. This led him to begin a series of paintings characterized by large abstract black forms against white backgrounds, of which Hazelton is one. In allowing that the pared down aesthetic of these paintings evokes many things, Kline embodied the spirit of New York school artists, who believed that their abstract compositions were capable of communicating universal concepts and should not be restricted by literal or narrative interpretation.

Franz Kline (b. 1910, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; d. 1962, New York)
Hazelton, 1957
Oil on canvas
41 1/4 x 78 in.
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
The Panza Collection

I’m not a symbolist. In other words, these are painting experiences. 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. It’s not symbolism any more than it’s calligraphy. I’m not painting bridge constructions, skyscrapers, or laundry tickets. —Franz Kline