Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Franz Kline -- Why Do I Love You So?

With Rue and Study for Siegfried, it's because I seem to be in Russell Crowe's garage in "A Beautiful Mind",
There with Kline, nothing more, maybe not even with Kline or Crowe, just there.

Early Morning With Kline
When I woke up this morning at 4, it was you Kline, and also, Mr. Hobbes.
Thom Hobbes, the ten pound cat.
Hobbes stayed on my chest and you took me back to my other life,
Maybe the garage, maybe somewhere else.
Hobbes was still there at 6, the wake up call.
Time to be part of the world where all of the others reside.
Kline, I'll see you later.

Seriously though, why do I love Franz Kline? Probably because his paintings are not to mean anything. He is New York and his paintings are New York. If I could live anywhere other than where I am, New York would be it. Kline also loved opera, especially Wagner. I'm not so much of a Wagner woman. In addition to Joe Green, my next favorite opera composer is Hayden. Quite a leap, but if you've actually watched a Hayden opera you might agree.

Kline became world famous and procured the wealth that went with that for his Abstract Expressionist paintings. In 1958, the art world stood up and took notice when he had the money to buy a brand new black Thunderbird. After walking into the East Hampton Ford agency and then taking possession of his new chariot, he lamented that having the money to buy the car or anything else money could buy did him no good since he couldn't eat or drink what he wanted. Kline suffered from a long standing heart problem that brought his death on May 13, 1962. However, the art world was never the same after the Thunderbird. It was a metaphor for change; the New York bohemian life style was on its way out to be replaced by that lived by wealthy artists and their patrons.

Kline had spent the last few years of his life with Elisabeth Ross Zogbaum. For her and for his wife Elizabeth who he spent many years visiting in mental institutions, I turn to this poem by Frank O'Hara – what I think of as a consummate love poem. O'Hara spoke of a drink other than Kline's favorite drink, beer. However it is the perfect love poem for spouse, lover, significant other. The video is quite worth watching because it is Frank O'Hara himself speaking. However, for those of you who also want to read the poetry, the poem follows.

Having a Coke with You, by Frank O'Hara

is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irun, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian
partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt
partly because of the fluoresent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary

it is hard to believe when I'm with you that there can be anything as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it
in the warm New York 4 o'clock light we are drifting back and forth
between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles

and the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint
you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them I look
at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world
except possibly for the "Polish Rider" occasionally and anyway it's in the Frick
which thank heavens you haven't gone to yet so we can go together the first time
and the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism
just as at home I never think of the "Nude Descending a Staircase" or
at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo or Michaelangelo that used to wow me
and what good does all the research of the impressionists do them
when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank
or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn't pick the rider as carefully
as the horse

it seems they were all cheated of some marvelous experience
which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I am telling you about it

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