Kline’s paintings, with their dynamic, gestural brushstrokes, appear immediate and spontaneous. But in fact, his works were carefully composed and the product of long hours of deliberation. This untitled ink-on-paper painting prominently shows Kline’s trademark of heavy, calligraphic brushstrokes on a light background. The bold application of paint belies a melancholy undertone. Kline avoided discussions of meaning in his works. Yet one is tempted to read the painting’s somber mood as a reflection of Kline’s struggles with depression and alcoholism. Seen as an exemplary “action painter,” Kline’s abstractions read as traces of his own body’s movement, channeling the dynamism of New York City, where the artist lived and worked.
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