Allentown Art Museum acquires Franz Kline painting

The Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley announce the acquisition of a work by Franz Kline on the eve of its new exhibition devoted to the world-renowned painter. Lower East Side Market Scene, circa 1938, was purchased by a representative of the Museum at Christie’s auction house in New York on September 25, 2012 (Lot 96). “This painting, by one of America’s great masters of the twentieth century, is a welcome addition to our special exhibition Franz Kline: Coal and Steel,” said the Museum’s chief curator, Diane P. Fischer. “After the exhibition closes in January, it will have a prominent place in our permanent collection galleries.”

Franz Kline (1910–1962), Lower East Side Market Scene, 1938, oil on canvas, 24 x 28 inches. Allentown Art Museum. © 2012 The Franz Kline Estate / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Franz Kline: Coal and Steel is on in the Museum’s Scheller Gallery through January 13, 2013. The exhibit explores Kline’s roots in the Pennsylvania coal region, just north of the Museum, drawing connections between the mining-scarred landscape of his youth and his bold late-career black-and-white canvases.

Created soon after Kline moved to New York City, Lower East Side Market Scene (oil on canvas, 24 x 28 inches) depicts an open-air market that embodies the artist’s fascination with his Greenwich Village environment. Painted in broad brushstrokes and vital colors, Kline captures the character of the older buildings and the variety of working people shopping for their weekly groceries. Robert S. Mattison, guest curator of Franz Kline: Coal and Steel, notes that the painting reveals an awareness of the tradition of American urban scenes by such artists as George Bellows, George Luks, and John Sloan. “The irregular geometry of the painting foretells the structure of Kline’s later abstract art,” comments Mattison. –