Sun, 10/07/2012 – Sun, 01/13/2013

Scheller Gallery

Franz Kline (1910–1962), one of the most celebrated artists of the modern era, was born in northeastern Pennsylvania in the midst of the anthracite coal revolution. His Pennsylvania roots, however, have been largely unknown—until now. This exhibition, curated by Dr. Robert S. Mattison, the Marshall R. Metzgar Professor of Art History at Lafayette College, assembled sixty-four works by the artist, many of which had rarely or never been viewed by the public.

Kline’s early representational works show the coal regions of his childhood. They depict speeding trains powered by anthracite, bridges, and raw industrial scenes. When Kline moved to New York City in 1938, his vision of the city was profoundly influenced by these early experiences. In New York he painted on the “edges” of the city, depicting empty squares, skeletal buildings, and the abandoned Third Avenue El.

The exhibition was divided by themes: Pennsylvania, New York, The Studio, Experimental Abstractions, and Mature Abstractions. Around 1950, when Kline developed the large scale black and white abstract paintings for which he became internationally famous, he was drawing on memories of the trestles, locomotives, and coal breakers of his youth, Mattison argues. These forms symbolized for him the force of the modern industrial age.

Presenting Sponsorship:  Julius & Katheryn Hommer Foundation

Major Sponsorship:  Dedalus Foundation, First Northern Bank and Trust, and The Leon C. and June W. Holt Endowment

Sustaining Sponsorship:  The Audrey and Bernard Berman Endowment Fund, Capital Blue Cross, Lutron Electronics Co. Inc, PPL, J.B. & Kathleen Reilly Fund of the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation

Supporting Sponsorship: Computer Management and Marketing Associates, Inc., ICON, Palmerton Area Historical Society, Senior Style, WDIY 88.1 FM, Lehigh Valley Community Public Radio


Black and White, 1949.  Oil on paper.  Collection of Juliet and Michael Rubenstein.