Kline was unique for more or less vaulting onto the Abstract Expressionist bandwagon just as it was reaching full speed, and for being accepted as an equal by those who had set it in motion. Its prime movers were Arshile Gorky, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still, who had spent years, if not decades, creeping up on abstraction through a thicket of largely European modernist styles.
Kline had done no such thing. Arriving in New York in 1938, he dedicated most of his energies to an Ashcan-related representational style. After getting to know de Kooning and some other artists, he began in 1946 to broach abstraction in tentative fits and starts. Then, around 1949, he realized that when enlarged, the small ink studies he had been making for years were not only nearly abstract, but they also had an