Saturday, December 29, 2012

Heinrich Kley, Grand Master of Ink

It seems regardless of my direction these past few weeks, I keep getting pointed to the work of German illustrator and artist Heinrich Kley (1863-1945). Comparably, few know of his work, but it is often held in high regard among those that do. Kley is about to get some attention that is long overdue, and it is worth making sure that more people are aware of his work and the new books on the way.

I found (almost literally… I bought them from a street vender) two volumes that Dover had published of Kley’s work while I was an undergraduate student in the mid-eighties. The copies I bought were twenty years old then. I was stunned how much the imagery reminded me of the ink work Jeff Jones produced monthly for Heavy Metal Magazine, in a regular strip Jones called "I’m Age". The work was incredibly loose, fluid and refreshingly sketch-like, but had beautiful clarity where it was most deserved.

Kley first appeared in German periodicals out of Munich around 1907. Previous to that he'd been in fine arts and a book illustrator. His work from the next decade often comments on social and political issues, and not unlike his contemporary Charles Dana Gibson, he often sought out subject matter depicting the struggles between the sexes.

The two Dover volumes I mention above gave Kley a small but loyal following here in America, but he was otherwise nearly forgotten about. The first one, The Drawings of Heinrich Kley, is still in print.

Sometime last year I got hold of issue eight of Jim Vadeboncoeur’s Images magazine, (I highly recommend it) which featured numerous color works by Kley, and also pointed out that he regularly contributed color work to German magazines of the day, including one called Jugend. The color plates I have here are all from Jugend, 1911, while the line works are from those Dover collections mentioned above.

A friend with an eye on VIEW—Tom Kidd—pointed out to me recently two new volumes of Kley’s work are about to be—or have recently been—released by Lost Art Books. These two volumes feature hundreds of Kley’s images that have not been reprinted for near a century, in some cases, more. Scoop them up while you can. Bud Plant announced them yesterday on his page as well.


While I’m currently consumed by two large projects, VIEW is not getting the attention it deserves from me, but it is very much in my mind and I will maintain it as frequently as time allows.

VIEW needs ONE more new follower until I send five folks their choice of any of the Dover books found on my Author’s Page at Amazon. If you are interested in receiving one of your choice, just let me know in a comment. I’ll be in touch with five randomly selected winners as soon as we hit 100.

Have a happy and safe New Year!!   Jeff

These tortoises were definitely the inspiration
for the cover of the Grateful Dead's "Terrapin Station"