Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Heinrich Kley

This post is another in my "who was famous in the 60's?" series. The artist on this page Kley was a German newspaper cartoonist who lived from 1863 to 1945.I am excited to turn you on to this guy. I am very fond of his work. He LIT me up in the late 60's. Dover press published several books of his drawings and he was a a great hero to me in high school. I drew a lot in India ink trying to acquire the look of these. I can't say that I ever did.

Kley was a wildly talented irreverent cartoonist who took on the church the government and the foibles of the German people. His drawings are facile in the extreme. His command of the figure and animal anatomy is wonderful. I envied his ability to whip out those lithe nudes in any position or angle he needed.

Kley was a big influence on the movie Fantasia and was studied extensively by the Disney artists of that era. I think that is probably why his reputation has survived. He is all but forgotten in Germany today.

If you want to see an example of someone who could draw with a pen fluidly I think Kley and Charles Dana Gibson are great examples. They lived at roughly the same time and their ability was developed because printing in the popular press at that time did very well on ink drawings.

These images are from "More Drawings by Heinrich Kley copyright 1962 by Dover Press, here is a link to where you can get a copy.


Tom said...

Hi Stape

Sorry about the last post. I was just responding to what you said with my own thoughts. I was not trying to cause a "debate" or any upset. Just expressing a viewpoint. I don't even know what a profile is, kind of a computer ignorant artist who enjoys your blog,. Kley understands planes doesn’t he?

Stapleton Kearns said...

Yes he does.That guy got me so excited I wanted to be Heinrich Kley. It think You should figure out how to get your profile to say who you are and link to your web site and blog if you have one.There is nothing saying you have to, but not doing so seems sort of antisocial, as this is an open forum and so far no one has been nasty. I don't even screen comments. Glad you are here.

Sidharth Chaturvedi said...

This is easily my favorite post in this series so far, I love those lines! There's so much energy in his drawings. Thanks a lot for sharing.

billspaintingmn said...

I vaguely remember Kley from the 60's
The pen & ink drawings were entertainment if you could get them.
I like Dali, I don't like Dali.
(I bought a signed litho in "82")
Wonder if it's real?
Stape, finding your post,(blog) has been real.
I like Stape, I like Stape.
Happy New Year!! said...

Hi Tim,
You are right, I did mean Tom. Hi Tom, Stapleton can take a good debate. He takes as good as he gives, which is pretty good.

Stapleton, a "gallerist" is the word originally used in other English speaking countries thatdefines the person who owns and runs a commercial gallery (sometimes used in place of art dealer). It has been used in and around NY and Boston for a about five years or so but gallerist been used is the UK for a long time (where I picked it up).I never met a gallerist who objected to this term. I find it useful and succinct.

So does Heinrich Kley qualify as a sur-realist?

Todd Bonita said...

These are wonderfully gestural alive. I dont remember ever hearing his name before but I swear Ive seen the image of that gal dancing with the crocodile. Thanks for turning me on to his work.

Philip Koch said...

Kley is very good and yes, I do remember his books prominently displayed in back in the '60's. Waterskiing crocodiles are where it is at!

My wife has a button she keeps proudly on her desk
"Still Living in the '60's until something better comes along." This is why I love her.

Steve said...


I've been reading your blog for months without commenting, but I had to chime in with my appreciation for Kley. I still have the Dover book, purchased in the early 70s, and have taken it off the shelf a few times every year since I bought it. His lines are a rare combination of loose and exact, free and controlled. It's always a tonic to spend time with them. His tambourine-rattling, dancing turtle showed up, unattributed, on a Grateful Dead album cover.

willek said...

That second picture is a more powerful picture in these times than it could have been pre 9/11. If it had been drawn after that, it would have been taken as a metaphor for the event. That was the first thing I thought when I saw it, but you say it was done during the sixties.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks, I think he was such a great draftsman.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks Happy New Year. I don't know if your Dali is real.There has been as you kn ow some controversy there.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Gallerist? Spell check flags it.I like dealer. Gallerist sounds like an echinoderm of some kind. I think it is an attempt to lift the dealer into a title that sounds like artist. There job is to deal em, not to gallery them.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I caught my high school girlfriend dancing with an alligator once. Probably happens all the time in St. Petersburg.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I too am caught in the 60's I am afraid. It goes with the age bracket.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Hi there. I have looked at my book until the binding has broken.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Actually the picture is from the 1890's to the early 1900's. Kley died in about 1945.