Today Klein lives in Raleigh, NC, where he paints, teaches workshops, and enjoys the robust art community, mild clime, and abundant local flora for inspiration. He also travels with his wife to her hometown in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he maintains a second studio surrounded by similarly lush environs. Both locations suit Klein’s proclivity for examining flowers, fruits, vegetables, and other organic materials through form, light, brushwork, and chromatic harmony. “You have a range of neutral to high-chroma colors to exhibit your understanding of color,” the artist explains. “Often, color is exaggerated—there are false harmonies.” Klein, who favors earth-based pigments mixed with oil, strives to portray color truthfully in his work, from bouquets of ivory, violet, and pale-pink garden flowers to a bucolic spread of black raspberries, white roses, and tarnished metal pails on rumpled burlap.”
Kim Agricola – May 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine.
Immediately upon finishing his studies at the Water Street Atelier in Brooklyn, Michael and his wife Nelida moved to Buenos Aires preparing for his debut solo exhibition in New York City. They built a custom studio to mimic indirect light that was commonly used in the older academic studios, ideal for portraits and still life paintings. Many of these early paintings made abroad continue to be an inspiration for up artists today.
Michael Klein Biography
Michael Klein is part of a group of American artists leading the revival of representational painting hearkening back to the Renaissance and French Academic traditions. Klein had two major solo exhibitions in New York City in 2008 and 2010. He also participated in the American Chinese Oil Painting Artist League (ACOPAL) a prestigious exhibition that traveled through China hitting five major cities including Beijing’s World Art Museum. He and his wife started American Painting Video Magazine in 2010, an online video production which has been viewed in over 130 countries throughout the world. His work has been published in numerous magazines such as Fine Art Connoisseur, American Artist Magazine and American Arts Quarterly.
Born in 1980, Michael Klein was nineteen when he began his serious training in classical ateliers and workshops. His first teacher was Richard Whitney. One of New Hampshire’s most prominent portrait painters, and a pupil to the teaching of R.H. Ives Gammell of the Boston School Tradition. After two years with workshop classes under Whitney’s guidance, Klein continued studying in Minneapolis at the former atelier Lack which was founded by Richard Lack, a classical painter whose efforts were largely responsible for the revival of traditional painting in the United States. Seeking to broaden his education, Klein then left his home in the midwest to move east, where he began studies at the Art Students League of New York, most notably under the tutelage of portraitist Nelson Shanks. In 2002, Klein entered what would become his final school, the Water Street Atelier (now Grand Central Atelier), where he apprenticed under founder Jacob Collins until 2005.
His passion is to depict an accurate representation of our human experience interacting with the created order around us. By poetically blending pigments from the earth, adding oil, and his inborn artistic capability he recreates the world around us and injects his personal spirit into each piece throughout the process. Due to many years training in the classical tradition under well known artists, Klein has emphasized that working from life is an important part of the creative process.
Michael Gormley, former editor of American Artist stated in an article featuring 11 artists of 2011, “Klein is wrestling with his motives for making art. His overarching aim, however, remains steadfast- to continue developing an expressive painting form that captures and communicates the things he sees and experiences in life that seem beyond the descriptive range of verbal language. His work seeks to elicit in the viewer the same primal, prelinguisitc sensation that accompanies exposure to life’s often overlooked numinous occurrences. He goes on to state ‘This approach to realism implies an unspoken covenant with viewers. Klein’s painting technique offers an expressive visual language that communicates a sensual vision of the world. It is a worldview that is intuitively and immediately recognizable because it can be both seen and felt. Yet the expressive quality of his work, communicated by a deft nature truthfully. Hence, the feelings Klein aims to elicit in his viewer are arrived at by subtle means– a gentle invitation rather a full-on expressive assault. It is as if Klein is just pointing the way to what is already there but it so often missed. It is a view that is hopelessly tangled up in all thing human–emotion, memory, and striving– and thus offers a compelling contrast to some realist painting that does little more than mimic photographic effects.”
“Klein’s paintings have a brooding energy emanating from them, a silent, almost exotic, narrative; this stillness takes his work from being just a nod to 19th century artists such as Whistler and elevates it to a contemporary contemplation of the past and present.
The surfaces of his paintings reveal variations in paint density from the thinly painted transparent darks to the richly textured built up lights, thus giving way to a lacquered quality, and the intentionally limited color palette creates a dramatic counterpoint. Thematically, many of Klein’s pieces feel like mysterious vignettes, leaving his story unfinished and all the more fascinating.”
Michael Klein is part of a group of American artists leading the revival of representational painting hearkening back to the Renaissance and French Academic traditions.
Klein had two major solo exhibitions in New York City in 2008 and 2010.
He also participated in the American Chinese Oil Painting Artist League (ACOPAL) a prestigious exhibition that traveled through China hitting five major cities including Beijing’s World Art Museum.
He and his wife started American Painting Video Magazine in 2010, an online video production which has been viewed in over 130 countries throughout the world.
His work has been published in numerous magazines such as Fine Art Connoisseur, American Artist Magazine and American Arts Quarterly.
Michael Klein paints with an unusual sensitivity toward nature”something he attributes to growing up in the Midwest. After completing high school, Klein enrolled himself in numerous stringent atelier programs, dictated by the French tradition of painting. Later he left Minnesota and sought out the renowned painter Jacob Collin to help further hone his craft.
Klein places the greatest importance on staying truthful to life and his own experiences, so despite his rigorous classical training and the influence of his accomplished peers, he sees his work developing in a direction that is both unique and representative of his own era.
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