Franz Kline American

Not on view

Kline was married to a ballet dancer, Elizabeth Parsons, who, like the famous Russian dancer Nijinsky, suffered from schizophrenia. Kline made several portraits of Nijinsky during his early years, when he worked as a commercial illustrator. This work, however, does not depict the dancer. It is one of the first in Kline’s mature style, developed over the winter of 1949–50. During a visit to de Kooning’s studio, Kline saw one of his own sketches enlarged with an overhead projector. For the first time he saw that his calligraphic studies, which were made on the pages of a telephone book, worked well as large pictures. This canvas was included in Kline’s first one-man show at Charles Egan’s gallery. The titles were created, more or less arbitrarily, by a committee composed of Egan, Elaine and Willem de Kooning, and Kline. The zig-zag line at bottom left may have reminded Kline of the ruff that Nijinsky wore in an earlier portrait of him as Petrouchka.

Nijinsky, Franz Kline (American, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1910–1962 New York), Oil on canvas

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