Franz Kline was born May 23, 1910 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Kline studied painting in the Art department at Boston University and took classes at the Boston Art Students League from 1931 to 1935. In 1937, Kline moved to London where he took classes at Heatherley's School until 1938. During the late 1930's and 1940's, Kline painted cityscapes and landscapes of the coal-mining district where he spent his childhood, as well as commissioned portraits and murals.
In 1943, Kline met Willem de Kooning, who exercised a great influence over Kline's art; he also met Jackson Pollock during this time. Toward the end of the 1940's, Kline began what would become his mature abstract style, characterized by bold gestural strokes of black and white enamel. Following his first solo exhibition at the Egan Gallery, New York in 1950, Kline became one of the key figures in the Abstract Expressionist movement. Over the next several years, Kline showed in major international exhibitions, notably the Sao Paulo Biennial in 1957. Franz died May 13, 1962 in New York, this same year the Gallery of Modern Art, Washington D.C., organized a memorial exhibition.