Sunday, February 12, 2017


Franz Kline: A Study in Conflict

We are fortunate to have his mural ‘Lehighton’, as tangible 
evidence of his energy and talent.

Painting all day...1950s: Kline was known for his storytelling to all hours of the
night at the home base of many 'New York School' artists in the 1950s and 1960s,
Greenwich Village's Cedar Bar, of his favorite topics to discuss: his hometown.
The recent successful unveiling of 'Lehighton' in its new home is a testament to its worth, as valued by both Lehightonians and as well as those who love and respect the art of Franz Kline.
Local Kline authority and writer of ‘Carbon County’, a postcard history and contributor to Ebbert and Ripkey’s ‘Lehighton’, Rebecca Rabenold-Finsel writes this about the mural in her forthcoming book: ‘Kline in Coal Country,’ co-written with her son Joel Finsel:

Kline’s Lehighton mural is more than a painting; it is a confession, an unabashed and richly colored ode to this place he had called home. In the mural, Kline as alchemist transforms an ordinary small town to a rolling dreamscape of places seen and unseen. Among the dark hues and myriad of densely painted areas, secrets, only known to the artist, are hidden. In the center foreground of the work is a white house behind the entrance gate to the fair, a dark heart painted at the top of this house, gray-black on black, and adeptly camouflaged. His childhood home...

Here is a picture commissioned by Kline authority Rebecca Rabenold-Finsel for her forth coming book 'Kline Coal Country.'  The photo by area photographer Josh Finsel was used by the Allentown Art Museum for its 2012 Kline exhibit.  It is the best
photo taken of the mural prior to its removal from the Legion Post in November 2016.
Click here to be taken to the JFAB Photography website.

"I paint the white as well as the black, and the white is just as important."Franz Kline

The art world was just beginning to figure him out, this new form of expression that he and the 'New York School' had developed and offered to the world during his short life-time.

But Kline was a living dichotomy.  Just like his famous black and white abstracts, he found constant push between opposing forces.  He packed energy into his brush strokes, often adding texture with the edge of his hand or the base of his thumb.
Kline at the Cedar Bar

“The nature of anguish is translated into different forms.” Franz Kline

Up until the age of eight, Kline had a typical life. According to Rabenold-Finsel, Kline as a young boy, first sketched trains on the sidewalks of his West River Street Wilkes-Barre home, using a stick of rhubarb from the family garden.

But his father’s suicide, tears the family apart, and begins a heart-wrenching chain of events.  The death of Anthony Kline forces his mother Anna into some tough decisions: She must send her kids away so that she could support them with a nursing degree.  (See “Endnotes” for more on this.)

Franz’s siblings (Frederick, Louise, and Jack) are sent to an Episcopalian home, while Franz was sent to the Girard College Home for Fatherless Boys, a place Kline would for the rest of his life refer to as “the orphanage.”

Girard was said to be a cold place both in environment and in its severe military-like discipline.  Boys marched everywhere in two-by-two rank and files.  Kline arrived when he was just eight years old.

The mission of the place was to prepare young men to be productive workers.  Here is where Kline took his first drawing classes, preparatory courses for industrial draftsmen. 
Franz Kline used Lehighton as his source of inspiration for his "Pennsylvania Landscape" (c 1947-49).
The houses to the left were once on Bankway and Bridge Streets, burned in the 1970s.  
The bridge is the Lehighton-Weissport overhead trestle bridge that was torn down and replaced 
in the early 1970s.  These girders uplifted and viewed in the sky are resplendent and 
tangible residual manifestations seen in Kline's work.
 Copyright Franz Kline Family Estate, Artist Rights Society [ARS].

During this time, his mother met and later married a Packerton Yard shop foreman from Lehighton.  Three years later, Ambrose Snyder, a recent widower himself, set up house with Anna Kline at the corner of Ninth and Alum Streets.
The Lehighton Weissport bridge as it looked to Kline in the 1940s.  One can
see "Union Hill" looming in the backdrop of both pictures.
Anna tried her best to gather up her family and Kline’s other siblings were soon returned.  However, at the tender age of ten, Kline was caught in a confluence of opposing forces.

Girard had a limited visitation policy, so Kline seldom came home.  It also had an equally strict contract that said once enrolled, the child remained there until he was eighteen.

It took five years of letter writing and remonstrations from Anna to finally bring Franz back home to her. 
1946 Self -Portrait - Painted the same year
as his 'Lehighton' mural.  Copyright 2017
The Franz Kline Estate, Artist Rights
Society [ARS].

“If you’re a painter, you’re not alone.  There’s no way to be alone.”
 Franz Kline

Fearing her son had been academically stilted at Girard, she enrolled her fifteen year old son in seventh grade the following September. 

The High School Years: A Man Versus Boys:

Kline was born in May 1910 and entered Lehighton schools by the seventh grade in September 1925 at the age of 15, graduating in 1931 at the age of twenty-one.

Given his dashing good looks, athleticism, and his advanced age among his peers, Franz made a quick impression on his classmates.  It has been said that he played varsity football for six years.  He was the halfback in football and the catcher for baseball. 

He also loved exploring the outdoors and went hunting in the hills.  And with his step-father’s railroad pass, he had free access to all the points along the rails, taking in the rugged coal-country landscape that would seep through his consciousness and onto the canvas.

Kline acknowledged this residual imagery that entered his art:

This sketch of Kline's from the Lehighton High
yearbook of 1931 (turned upside down here for
effect) shows striking similarity to his later
abstracts that in a short word showed the conflict
Kline liked to imbue into his work.  (One of my favorite
things to do with these cropped sketches is to rotate
them around in a picture viewer, noting how the symmetry
holds together no matter the orientation.)
He said, "There are forms that are figurative to me, and if they develop into a figurative image … it's all right if they do. I don't have the feeling that something has to be completely non-associative as far as figure form is concerned."
From the Lehighton High school yearbook of
1931.  It is easy to see Kline's theme of
conflict in his early works.  A theme that
carried into his black and white abstract
days, of painting white up against black,
black up against white.

Black and White No. 1 c. 1952 - Compare the energy and emotion of his 1931 yearbook sketches to this circa 1952 painting. Copyright 2011 The Franz Kline Estate, Artists Rights Society [ARS].

A Personal Favorite -  From Kline's 1931 LHS Sketches -This one refers to his buddy, my father's cousin Harold Rabenold, and  Curt Blank playing hooky for a  "nature study."  The PA Dutch dialect is another good example of Kline's playful humor.
He had many friends in the neighborhood, Henry and Frank Bretney, and Ralph Beisel to name a few.  He was good friends with his Rabenold neighbors too: my Aunt Gladys, and my father’s cousins Harold “Spunt” and Donald.

Many young ladies of Kline’s day were known, after he achieved fame, to boast of a date with him being the highlight of their high school years.

Kline Re-Awakened – Fall 2012

The Allentown Art Museum, through the efforts of guest curator and Lafayette College Marshall R. Metzgar Professor of Art History, Dr. Robert S. Mattison, arranged for a three month exhibit, ‘Kline: Coal and Steel,’ the first and largest major Kline exhibit ever held in the Lehigh Valley.

This, in conjunction with the museum’s acquisition of Kline’s 1938 Lower East Side Market Scene, set the wheels in motion for the museum to acquire the mural of Lehighton from the American Legion Post #314 in Lehighton.

‘Kline: Coal and Steel’ left Allentown in January of 2013 and moved for a well-received run in New York City.
Marshall R. Metzgar Professor of Art History at Lafayette College, Dr.
Robert S. Mattison presents his life and art of Franz Kline lecture
to the intimate Saturday 28 January 2017 gathering
at the Allentown Art Museum.

Mattison, who authored the 2012 book entitled “Kline: Coal and Steel” made several distinctions on the artist.

Mattison dispelled the belief by some in the art world, both during Kline’s time as well as today, that a parcel of his inspiration came from the Japanese art of calligraphy.  

Kline wanted his viewers to be “unhindered by suggestions” and refused to give meanings to his work.  He avoided comment of the meanings of his works, conveying only emotional, non-symbolic discussions of his painting experience.

Prior to his explosion into the field of Abstract Expressionism, Kline’s scenes "depicting the intersection of nature and industry (Such as ‘Palmerton’) were not the bucolic representations some have asserted," said Mattison.  But rather most of his art is a gesture of conflict, of the pushing back and forth, the ebb and flow, the rise and decline of various forces.
Kline's 'Palmerton' is as equally compressed and geometrically contorted
as 'Lehighton.'  Note the Palmerton train station that still stands today as
well as the two Orthodox churches in the background.  A few of the piers
from the "high bridge" still remain in the Lehigh Gap.  Copyright 2017
The Frantz Kline Family Estate, Artists Rights Society [ARS].

He was said to have admired and perhaps identified with Jim Thorpe the athlete, and after Mauch Chunk changed its name, Kline would have renewed reason to regale his fellow artists of stories of his hometown.

Excerpt from Rebecca Rabenold-Finsel and Joel Finsel’s forthcoming book ‘Franz Kline in Coal Country’:
From the titles of many of his abstract works such as Mahoning; Harleman; Diamond and others––we believe that some of what went into producing his most significant works of the late 1950's, early 1960's included conjured memories of this home town.

It is easy to see the intersection between Kline’s early work and the influences from the anthracite and railroad region of Wilkes-Barre and Lehighton.  One cannot look at the overhead trestle of the Jersey Central trestle at the top left of the 'Lehighton' mural and not see forms from his later black and white murals.
The Jersey Central iron trestle passes over the Lehigh Valley rail lines at the southern extreme of the Packerton Yard, Lehighton in the 1960s.  This trestle plays a prominent role in Kline's Lehighton.  

This close up crop from 'Lehighton' of the overhead Jersey Central trestle
(torn down in the early 1980s to make wayfor the Lehighton Route 209 by-pass)
is another example of residual area images that seem to reappear in Kline's later works.
Copyright 2013 Franz Kline Family Estate, Artist Rights Society [ARS].

“You paint the way you have to in order to give.  That’s life itself, and someone will look and say it is the product of knowing, but it has nothing to do with knowing, it has to do with giving.” Franz Kline

Mattison mentioned Kline’s jovial and giving personality and his relentless story telling (to all hours of the evening in the Village’s Cedar Bar).  To his friends, he was always most generous in his time.  Kline’s favorite topic was discussing the love for the area he came from.

Examples of his generosity live on in the anecdotes of his local friends.  Other testaments to this are his design of posters for Adlai Stevenson's presidential run as well as donating one of his paintings to support his friend Andrew Weinstein's off-Broadway production of 'Red Eye of Love' in 1961.

Kline's friend Andrew Weinstein's
off-Broadway show, 'Red Eye of Love' was 
sponsored, in part,  by a painting donated by Kline. 
 From the Jefferson City Post Tribune 23 Aug 1961.

(One story goes that Jackson Pollock, known for his intemperance, once unhinged the bathroom door and threw it at the easy-going Kline.  The act earned Pollock what amounted to a lifetime ban from the bar.)

The Mural Comes to Be – 1938 to 1946:

Kline’s affinity for Great Britain begins with his mother, Anna Rowe Kline who was born in England in 1880.  She emigrated here around 1908 and shortly after married Anthony Kline who was fourteen years older than she.  He was a hotel keeper in Wilkes-Barre.

Kline’s English roots certainly played a part in his decision to study abroad in London’s Heatherley School of Fine Art.  Here, Kline met the ballet dancer Elizabeth Vincent Parsons, who sometimes sat in to model at the school. 

Elizabeth arrived in New York in the fall of 1938, a year and a half before Hitler’s lightning war over Britain began. Soon after, America entered the war.

As they fought along the muddy roads of battle, many of our fighting men sought refuge within the churches and cathedrals of Europe.  The last thing they saw each night, as they released their dream mind toward thoughts of home, were the vaulted ceilings of these churches.

With Hitler defeated and with the return of her sons, the Lehighton’s Shoemaker-Haydt Legion post expanded the old Lewis Graver Homestead into a cavernous banquet hall in the style of those open-beamed ceilings they saw in Europe.
The American Legion Post #314 banquet hall as it
appears today, it's large open beams were designed
to resemble the churches of Europe where many of
Lehighton's sons slept during WWII.  The beams were
said to have been cut by Herman Ahner's small sawmill
in Franklin Township.  Note the vacated space below the
American flag where the Kline mural hung for 70 years:
from1946 until November of 2016.  The dark beams against
the white spaces of the ceiling could have had a visual impact on
Kline as he worked on his mural.  (The space seemed
to loom there, still glowing with the pride of 'Lehighton'.)

This large hall also had some wall space to fill.  Through a stroke of good fortune, the Legion leadership decided to fill the large space behind the bar with art.  

Lehighton’s veterans, fresh from battle, would get to view their home town in mural-form, a view they dreamed of during those long nights away.

The Legion was lucky to land their native son, the struggling artist who was just beginning to gain a good reputation in the informal ‘New York School’ of artists.  This commission was made in late 1945.

Kline was too poor to afford quality paints in his everyday work.  In fact, much of his preliminary stretches were done on paper from the New York phone books. 

Many of his early and famous black and white canvas abstracts were done with relatively cheap hardware store house paints.  Holders of these pieces today refrain from loaning them out due to their fragile nature.

Fortunately, the Legion paid Kline a fair $600 for his mural.  This afforded him to use what has been deemed high-quality oil paints.  A fortunate circumstance indeed for without it, the removal and relocation would have greatly compromised the work’s integrity.

Many who first viewed it, perhaps expecting a more literally representation, failed to distinguish between their ideal of how Lehighton appeared versus Kline’s burgeoning abstract contortion of Lehighton’s reality. 

Some chided him for its departure from reality at the unveiling in December 1945. 
Little did they know Kline was entering a prolific period in his career, eventually placing his stamp on a global scale, for he would be an instrumental force in America’s first major contribution to a world-wide art movement, a founder in Abstract Expressionism.
'Elizabeth at Table' -
Elizabeth Parsons Kline, like her mother-in-law Anna,
was born in England.  Anna's health suffered in the late 1950s.
Her well-being certainly weighed on Kline in his last
few remaining years.  Franz Kline died in 1962.
Copyright 2017 The Franz Kline Family Estate,
Artist Rights Society [ARS].

The timing of the mural commission was fortuitous for Elizabeth’s health. 

With Kline’s struggle to provide and with Elizabeth’s struggles with schizophrenia, their time together in Lehighton while he painted the mural allowed them to have a stable home life with regular meals under the nurturing care of Kline’s nurse mother Anna.

The Mural: A New Life – October 2016 to January 2017
This past January 29th, the public was re-introduced to the piece at its new home in Allentown.  Lines formed outside the museum at noon in anticipation. 

Dr. Mattison’s one-hour life and influences on Kline’s life in the auditorium was packed, leaving many standing in the aisles, along the walls, and out the door.

Mattison guided the audience through Kline’s life as seen through his work.  Early examples of Kline illustrating conflict and the pressure between two opposing forces is keenly captured in his 1931 Lehighton High year book illustrations, as seen earlier in this post. 

The football player comically portrayed in a severely impossible pose, one forced upon it from an overpowering external force.

The same whimsy can be seen in his big band vignettes he painted at Graver’s Skating Rink, for his good high school friend Reuben Graver, whose family owned the rink and swimming pool in town.

These three vignettes represent the five big band theme paintings Kline did directly onto the yellow-pine,
tongue and groove paneling at Graver's Skating Rink in Lehighton, probably around 1928 or early 1930s. These were among the paintings exhibited as The Jazz Murals at Bucknell University in 1986, then Baruch College Gallery in New York and onward to other locations as well.  This and more information will be published from Rebecca Rabenold-Finsel's Kline in Coal Country available soon.


The collision of two events led ‘Lehighton’ to be transferred to the Allentown Art Museum.  The first, sadly, came as a result of the steep decline in living WWII Veterans.  As a result the Legion Post had to make some tough financial decisions to ensure a future.

Likewise, though the Legion still maintains a beautiful and functional banquet hall available for receptions and reunions, they knew they could not provide the museum quality climate control the mural needed, a mural already showing steady signs of degradation. 

A painful confrontation with reality led the trustees of the Legion to decide to sell it to the Allentown Art Museum.
Luca Bonetti and Beth Nunan, art conservators on the Kline project
field questions at a small reception on Saturday 28 January 2017.

“Keeping art around as long as possible and allowing other people to be inspired by it is essential and valuable to the world,” Beth Nunan, Kline mural conservator, Luca Bonetti group.

On November 3, 2016, members of the Manhattan-based Luca Bonetti art conservation team began to roll the mural off the wall and onto the painstaking task of scraping away plaster and glue off the back of the canvas. 

Bonetti and Nunan continued their restorations efforts into and beyond the unveiling date of 29 January 2017.
(Photo courtesy of Amber Breiner of JFAB Photography of Jim Thorpe, taken on iPhone.)
Click here to be taken to the JFAB Photography website.

The first step was to cover the entire face in a protective layer of Japanese tissue paper.  Next the team loosened the edges of the canvas enough to work small amounts of water behind the canvas to release the glue holing it to the wall.

A nylon border was added to the backside edge of the canvas to be able to stretch the work over a wooden frame so it could be attached to the museum wall.

The Allentown Art Museum unveiled the mural in a reception for invited guests, including Lehighton town officials, donors, Legion members, and others who provided in kind support on Saturday January 28th, 2017.

Beside’s Mattison’s Kline presentation, the museum also showed the video they produced on the restoration which showed clips of the town along with people sharing Kline anecdotes. 
Here Dr. Mattison looks on as benefactor Dr. James Kintzel talks with
Amber Breiner.  Dr. Kintzel was a pleasure to talk to at the reception
and had plenty of  Lehighton anecdotes to share. 

A full-length video including more interviews of people who knew Kline will be made available by the museum soon.

There was also special recognition given to those who donated toward the restoration:
James H. Armbruster Sr. and family, Attorney William G. Schwab, Paula J. Wilson, the Allentown Art Museum Auxiliary, David and Barbara DeAngelo, Dr. James E. and Kay Kintzel, Kline family and friends, Jamie Musselman and Jim Edwards, Phyllis Brown, Sylvia Betz Gardner, Gordon and Joan Ripkey, and A. Cynthia Weber. 

Of those listed benefactors, I noticed Mr. Schwab, Mr. and Mrs. Ripkey, Dr. and Mrs. Kintzel and members of the Auxillary present.

As mentioned before, there was a standing room only crowd that gathered on Sunday January 29 in the museum’s auditorium for Mattison’s presentation, which numbered around 350 people. 
Lehighton historian Ron Rabenold and art conservator Beth Nunan
were on hand to speak to the crowd during the first hour of the mural
unveiling on 29 January 2017.  By all accounts of those involved,
the event was a well-staged success.  The enthusiasm and excitement
 was evident by the myriad of  comments and questions fielded by Rabenold
and Nunan.  See the article by Jarrad Hedes by clicking here.  Photo
courtesy of Jarrad Hedes and the Times News.

By show of hands, about one in four people were from Lehighton, providing testament of those who attended out of hometown pride and interest.  But the large amount of non-Lehighton attendants proves there is far-reaching excitement and interest in a man who last painted more than half a century ago.

Many with connections to Kline were on hand: a Mr. Arner from Allentown who was a God-son of Anna Kline Snyder, the daughter of Bill and Jan Peters, who owned the Keystone Restaurant on First St, Michael Hopstock who could see his home and his father’s Army Navy Store in the mural, and Mrs. Janey Snyder Graver, Kline’s step-niece, who was raised by her grandfather Ambrose Snyder in their home, who spoke of Kline’s mother insisting on being called “Mumsy.” 

Many have felt varying degrees of affinity to this piece over its seventy-year life span. 
And even though it isn’t the truest of representations, it includes all the icons of a town that many will always call home.  Things and places that mean so much to us, also meant so much to Kline.

With Elizabeth’s mental state deteriorating, she required commitment to a mental hospital in northern New Jersey by the late 1950s.  She died in New York in 1965. 

Franz Died on May 13th, 1962.

The Kansas City Times ran this Kline quote posthumously in November of 1962
“Half the world wants to be like Thoreau at Walden worrying about noise of the traffic on the way to Boston; the other half use up their lives being part of that noise.  I like the second half.”
New York School artists Joan Mitchell and Franz Kline
at the Cedar Bar, late 1950s/early 1960s.

From small town Pennsylvania, to the art scene of Greenwich Village and a driving influence on the world stage, Kline lived at the confluence of many opposing forces. 

Despite his own awareness of his declining health, Kline used up his life in a noisy swirl of  cigarettes, alcohol, and late-night painting sessions.  

He had a portrait of Jim Thorpe, the one who had his own troubles and fame, that Kline so identified with, setting among his things.

Excerpt from Rebecca Rabenold-Finsel and Joel Finsel’s forthcoming book ‘Franz Kline in Coal Country’:
It is ironic, as Franz Kline’s health began to decline in 1961 and the final chapter of his life was coming to a close, abstract expressionism, too, was slowing. His sister Louise recalled:
          “The day he died I was talking to mother on the pay phone down the hall at the hospital and then to Elizabeth (his wife) and then I went back to his room. And I said, ‘Here, let me boost you a little.’ So I opened the oxygen tent and put my arms underneath him and he said to me, ‘Hold me tight.’ I said, ‘I can’t give you the boost you need.’ And then Franz was gone.”

Kline once said, "The final test of a painting, theirs, mine, any other is: Does the painter's emotion come across?"  

Though Lehighton has said goodbye to its namesake mural, the living who still feel his presence here give Kline's emotions a lasting resting place.


Anna and Ambrose -
Although it is somewhat unclear how and when Anna Kline met Packerton Yard foreman Ambrose Snyder, it most certainly had something to do with the Lehigh Valley Railroad.

With railroading the dangerous industry that it was, the Lehigh Valley Railroad started St. Luke’s hospital for the service of its workers.  The LVRR had a special train and doctors on call in Lehighton ready to whisk men for emergency help.  Many of these injuries were of the most life-threatening kind, with amputations of limbs a common accident on a near daily occurrence in the Packerton Yard alone.

Almost daily, the special train car pulled out of Lehighton and dispatched to St. Luke’s in Bethlehem with a yard worker who in some form was mangled by a train on the job.  Also, the LVRR had one of its main headquarters located a few blocks from the hospital where Anna Kline was studying. 


The Bretney Brothers and Franz’s Dead Dog- 
This undated anecdote is one I’ve heard repeated since I was a young boy who enjoyed people watching at Henry Bretney’s gas station at Seventh and Mahoning Sts in Lehighton. 

Though Henry was the same age as Kline, Henry’s younger brother by five years, Frank, was a 1931 classmate of Kline.  As the story goes, the two Bretney brothers paid a visit with Kline in his Greenwich Village apartment.

The visit left such an impression with Henry that upon arriving back home in Lehighton, he mailed Franz $5 to buy some food.

Kline, not being one to let a gift pass without a proper return, mailed a small painting back to Henry as a thank you.  It hung in the Bretney’s home at the corner of Seventh and Coal Sts into the 1990s.  It had the Brooklyn Bridge in the background of a small boat at a dock.
The Kline painting as seen in the Lehighton Library, a gift from
Henry and Dorothy Bretney.

Henry died in 1992 and sometime before his wife Dorothy’s death in 1999, Dorothy donated the painting to the Lehighton Library.

Kline was known to have lived in real squalor most of his adult life.  He moved often, mostly for failing to pay the rent, and often lived without heat.

One story related by Professor Mattison talks of the time when Kline agreed to care for a friend’s dog for a time and the subsequent death of that dog while in Kline’s apartment.

When on the subject of the lifestyle of himself and his fellow Village artist friends, Kline would comment that “they live in places unfit for dogs.”


Anthony Kline’s Suicide - 
Those months in the late winter and spring of 1917 up to Anthony’s suicide in August, must have been heart wrenching for Anna and her children.

Anthony Kline, fourteen years older than his wife Anna, had come to the point in his life that he was ready to sell the family hotel business and retire on the $40,000 sale.  However, he seemed to have immediately regretted the decision.

Over the course of weeks, during negotiations to buy back the property from the real estate developer, Anna went to the office of Hyman Stakulsky.  During her discussion, Stakulsky assaulted her with a phone.  As a result the Klines filed suit against Stakulsky.

Eventually Anthony agreed to a price of $67,000 to buy back his former property.  On August 21, 1917, out of grief for this new financial burden, it is said that Anthony Kline took his life by the use of a pistol to his head.  He was fifty-one.
Wilkes-Barre news account
of Anna Kline's assault
May 1917.
Wilkes-Barre news account of Anthony Kline's suicide - August 1917.


The Legend of the Beer and the Paints -

An often repeated apocryphal story of the work contends that Kline dabbed his paint brush into a glass of beer while working with the oil paints of his palette.  A fact deemed chemically improbable, unless of course Kline used a mixture of beer to paint a clear glaze over, an idea debunked recently by Luca Bonetti’s group.  However, it is highly likely that Kline availed himself to such libations while he worked.

Kline's c. 1960 'Harleman' certainly named after his Lehighton friends, the Harlemans.
2017 The Franz Kline Family Estate, Artist Rights Society [ARS].
Treasures Lost –

Besides the paintings from Graver’s Roller Skating rink, others pieces of his art have been lost over the years.

Donna Koch Gower, formerly of Lehighton, remembers her father and her Harleman uncles being acquaintances of Kline.  She still remembers the New Year’s card Kline hand drew and sent to her dad and how it disappeared from their kitchen one day.  Other people in town share similar memories of personal Kline works that have since been lost.  

Luckily, she still has the 1950s era Christmas card sent to her father (below).  Kline was a friend and customer of Johnny Koch's Third St barber shop on his frequent visits home.

Shelly Stamm Genther remembers her father telling her how he remembered watching Kline make his initial studies in charcoal in the Legion, and how he would ball up and cast them aside as he worked at the wall, regretting years later for not picking any of them up.

These wood or lino cut prints were sent to
Lehighton barber and Kline friend Johnny Koch
whose shop was near Third and Iron Sts.
 (Appear here courtesy of Donna
Koch Gower of Norristown.)

Another Kline sketch was discovered in the attic of the Bisbing family.  Loren Bisbing, a few years older than Kline lived a few houses down the street.  By the 1930s he was a cashier at the Weissport branch of the Hazletown National Bank.  Around 1938, Franz Kline paid the family a visit and sketched Loren and Kathryn Bisbing's four-year-old son Henry sitting on a chair.  The sketch sat in the attic for about thirty years until his daughter found it one day.  It included a sketch by Henry on the back.
Kline's 1938 pencil sketch of his friend Loren Bisbing's son Henry.
See Times News story on this sketch by clicking here.

Kline in the 1931 Gatchin Bambil LHS yearbook - 

These last three pictures here are pages 126-128 in the LHS 1931 yearbook.
This is a card Franz Kline sent out December of 1936 to his
high school friend Robert Blank.  Robert Blank Jr, born in 1934, was
always told while growing up that Kline drew this baby picture of him.

More Kline:
~See Kline historian Rebecca Rabenold-Finsel's 1980s Kline documentary here. 

~See Kline art analysis "Then and Now" from Jim Lane at his blog here.

~Some key concepts of Kline's work were described from The Art Story website here on this link.

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