Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Genius of Heinrich Kley

I don't know exactly what year this article was published in the German newspaper "Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung". But since the text reveals that Kley had just died, the early 1940s would be a safe bet.
As I said before, Kley's work ages beautifully. Master draughtsmanship defining cartoony situations.
The first page shows you what Kley actually looked like, what a sad expression for an artist who's work makes you smile.
Occasionally Kley would copy one of his drawings and add color, either for a client for a friend.
The drawing below is one of those copies.

A huge oil painting depicting part of the German steel factory Krupp as it is being invaded by a group of demons. Kley's skills as a painter are as strong as his graphic work.

Drawings like this one inspired a generation of Disney animators...actually at least two generations, mine included.


  1. Wow! I've never seen a rendered painting of his before. I love the brushstrokes wrapping around the forms of the demon on the right, and the casual attitude of the guys behind it

  2. Somehow, the one where the woman dances with a crocodilian reminds me of the "Dance of the Hours" segment of FANTASIA...

  3. I love these winsome crocodiles. The one where he dances with the woman seems like an interesting spin on the classical theme of a young woman dancing with Death (usually represented by a skeleton). By contrast, these crocodiles appear too charming and friendly to be of any danger.

    Kley's work seems to me to really exemplify the Disney ethos. Sometimes in animation there seems to be a dichotomy: master draftsmen presenting humor, as opposed to funny people who draw well. Both Disney and Kley manage to split the difference quite well.

  4. It says he'd just died at aged 82.

    He's cited as born April 1863.

    That places this article and his death sometime in 1945.

    I was totally obsessed with Kley during my teen years as an art student. Because of him I'd become pretty good with pen and ink. Mostly because, like Kley, I'd insert a good bit of absurdity into the images I'd created.

    Stood me well into my early years in advertising. I could draw anything convincingly.