Monday, June 25, 2018

Kley's Artistic Evolution

Here are three Heinrich Kley magazine illustrations that show how his art evolved over the years.
The first one is titled "Summer Solstice in Heidelberg". I would date this piece sometime during the 1890s, even though there seems to be a later date indicated on the upper left side.
The depiction of men, women and children is realistic and rigid. It is a pretty illustration, but undistinguishable to other artists of that era.

The next one is titled "the late Hour" from 1896. A lot more going on here in terms of dynamic composition, inventive poses and personality. Just beautiful!

The third sketch represents what Kley became famous for. Fantasy illustrations that show, what Walt Disney would call "The Plausible impossible". Surreal, caricatured situations, drawn in a believable manner. In this case a violinist fiddling away while being eaten by alligators. Luckily the drawing shows the process' early stage.

Kley's work at this time also included assignments for the German steel company Krupp. Some paintings show plane architectural (but beautiful) renderings of their factories. But even in those environments he would occasionally include oversized evil, satyr-type or other characters.
His imagination is sometime difficult to figure out, since we always look for the meaning behind such unusual work.
What is easily accessible though is his drawing virtuosity. Way ahead of his time he could depict the most absurd situation and make it look beautiful and believable.