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Allentown Art Museum exhibits works by Abstract Expressionist painter Franz Kline
Franz Kline (1910–1962), Chief (Train), 1942, oil on canvas. Orr Collection. © 2012 The Franz Kline Estate / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

ALLENTOWN, PA.- The Allentown Art Museum (Pennsylvania) has brought the art of world-renowned Abstract Expressionist painter Franz Kline back to the area where he grew up with the special exhibition Franz Kline: Coal and Steel. Curated by Dr. Robert S. Mattison, professor of art history at Lafayette College in Easton, the exhibit assembles sixty-four early and later works by the artist, many of which have rarely or never before been viewed by the public. The exhibition runs through January 13, 2013.

Kline (1910–1962) was born in NE Pennsylvania, and his early representational works depict coal-region imagery such as locomotives powered by anthracite, trestle bridges, and raw industrial scenes. Throughout his life, even as his reputation as an Abstract Expressionist grew, Kline returned to the coal region, which greatly inspired him, as is evidenced in the titles of his works: Luzerne (1956), Hazelton (1957, [sic, misspelling of “Hazleton”]), Pittston (1958), Delaware Gap (1958), Scranton (1960).

The connections between Kline’s early and later paintings, including Turin (1960), a large-format black-and-white work featured in the show, are authoritatively, drawn from galleries, public collections including Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and National Gallery of Art, and private collections such as the Orr Collection, the Rubenstein Collection, and the Allan Stone Collection, among others.

Franz Kline: Coal and Steel is curated by Dr. Robert S. Mattison, the Marshall R. Metzgar Professor of Art History at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. Dr. Mattison received his MFA and PhD from Princeton University. He is the author of several books, including Robert Rauschenberg: Breaking Boundaries (Yale University Press, 2004), Grace Hartigan: A Painter’s World (Hudson Hills Press, 1990), and Robert Motherwell: The Formative Years (UMI Research Press, 1987), and numerous articles and exhibition catalogues. Dr. Mattison has curated numerous exhibitions, several for the Allentown Art Museum including a retrospective of Edaward Weston in 2003, an Andy Warhol show in 2006, and a retrospective of the work of Stephen Antonakos in 2008.

The exhibition catalogue for Franz Kline: Coal and Steel includes more than ninety full-color images of Kline works from every part of his career. At 112 pages the catalogue includes main text by the curator of the exhibit, Dr. Robert S. Mattison. This text describes five key phases of Kline’s career that are illustrated in the exhibition: Pennsylvania, New York, The Studio, Experimental Abstractions, Black and White and Color. The catalogue also includes a concluding essay by Irving Sandler, art critic and authority on the Abstract Expressionist movement. The softcover catalogue measures 12 x 9 inches and sells for $25 for nonmembers in the Museum Store.

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