Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Heinrich Kley was born in Karlsruhe, Germany, in 1863, and studied at the Karlsruhe Akademy. He became an illustrator and painter of landscapes and animals, but his interests changed around the turn of the century and he began to include the factories and blast furnaces of the Industrial Revolution. Dark and weird settings, often inhabited by grotesque creatures and wild animals, always perfectly rendered with a free and loose style.

I first came across Kley's amazing work when I was 13 or 14 years old and it was like finding pirates' treasure. I bought a couple of inexpensive collections of his work at a downtown Portland bookstore, then immediately went home and slavishly tried to copy his brilliant drawings. Hours, days, weeks passed...who knows how long I spent struggling to capture his loose, apparently effortless style with my clumsy teenage fingers. His work may have seemed effortless but it required Herculean effort on my part. It was a humbling experience. The results were fare to middling, but I got to know those drawings intimately like a traveler who's crossed a great city on foot. Since that time I've had a number of good art teachers, both officially and off the record, but none taught me more about movement and line than Heinrich Kley.

You may click on these images to enlarge them

1 comment:

Bob Rini said...

Here's a good website to see more of Heinrich Kley's amazing artwork: