Franz Kline: Coal and Steel
What better way is there for art lovers to grasp the complex connection between representational and abstract art than by visiting an exhibition devoted to their juxtaposition? The Mishkin Gallery’s winter 2013 show, Franz Kline: Coal and Steel, offered just such an experience.
Coal and Steel showcased 49 paintings and drawings by Kline, one of the most renowned Abstract Expressionist painters of the mid-20th century. Alongside his iconic abstract, calligraphic, black-and-white paintings were earlier, almost-unknown representational works. And, as the exhibition title suggests, the latter—with their images of smokestacks, coal chutes, locomotives, trestle bridges, and ramshackle company-town dwellings—reveal the importance to Kline’s art of his early years in northeast Pennsylvania, with its landscape defined by the coal mining industry.
Enormously successful, Franz Kline: Coal and Steel welcomed record numbers of visitors—1,200 during its monthlong run. It also caught the eye of Roberta Smith, art critic for the New York Times, who, in her review “Expressionism’s Sooty Anomaly,” called the exhibition “poignant, revelatory.”
Franz Kline: Coal and Steel is just one of the provocative, museum-quality shows for which the Mishkin Gallery is known. For more information about the gallery, which is free and open to the public, visit www.baruch.cuny.edu/mishkin.