Painting: Painstaking Slapdash

"Hell, half the world wants to be like Thoreau at Walden," Painter Franz Kline once remarked, "worrying about the noise of the traffic on the way to Boston. The other half use up their lives being part of that noise. I like the second half." He painted the noise, in hurtling compositions that were apt to bear the names of locomotives or place-names of his native Pennsylvania coal country. Together with his fellow abstract expressionists, he split the Manhattan art world of the early 1950s into two camps. The conservatives damned them...

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