Artist Biography

Medard P. Klein

Medard Klein (1905-2002):

Medard Klein, a significant non-representational artist of the 1930s and 1940s, was born in 1905 in Appleton, Wisconsin. In 1926, he moved to Chicago and attended the Art Institute of Chicago studying under Edmund Giesber, the National Academy of Design studying under Audubon Tyler, and the Chicago Studio School of Art under the muralist John W. Norton.

During his academic studies Klein focused on graphic work, but he excelled in all media and later taught himself the use of oil, watercolor, gouache and pastel, among other techniques. He was a greatly experimental artist, which led him to develop his own form of photographic printing called the “Lumiprint” in the 1940s. A Lumiprint is produced through painting onto acetate, which creates a painted negative that is exposed to photographic paper in a darkroom.

Throughout his career, Klein was interested in abstraction and non-objective images. His compositions contain geometric elements and expressive colors that evoke rhythmic movement and appeal to the senses. He was strongly influenced by classical music, and many of his images were visual interpretations of the music of Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Bartok.

In the 1940s Klein began to exhibit at the Museum of Non-Objective Painting, known today as the Guggenheim Museum, one of the most important venues of non-representational painting in the United States at the time. He also exhibited his work at the Art Institute of Chicago, the San Francisco Museum of Fine Arts, the National Academy of Design, the Library of Congress, the Philadelphia Print Club and the Addison Gallery of American Art, among others. In 1948, he exhibited his work in Paris at the “Realites Nouvelles” exhibition--one of the most comprehensive surveys of non-representational art in Europe in the 1940s.