Klabunde: A modern master of the complex art of etching

By: Victoria Donohoe September 5, 1980
Published by the Philadelphia Inquirer

For Charles Klabunde, art is a marvelous, teeming universe of images, and his 20-year retrospective exhibit at Associated American Artists presents the total of his artistic passion, spelled out in marvelous detail in his virtuoso use of color etching technique.

This Nebraska-born artist is a fantastically gifted etcher, and you won't see the likes of this technique anywhere. Klabunde is an artist who elevates printmaking because he takes great interest in exploiting the special qualities that make etching an expressive medium with unique characteristics rather than using it, say, only as a method of reproducing pencil drawings. He knows well how to handle the thin transparent scrims of color upon color, and he introduces patterned materials such as lace to obtain the surface quality he wants. His color sense and a story-telling bias distinguish him.

Charles Klabunde's mood is German, his subject often Roman and his form downright medieval, and yet his pictures appear decidedly up-to-date in some of the details of time and place. In his vast vocabulary of human figures and invented settings and in his overlapped color scrims and delicate nuances of etched line, a language emerges that conserves his North European viewpoint. Looking at these prints, we have to believe that Klabunde likes late-Gothic woodcarvings, and the prints of such old masters as Bruegel, Bosch and Durer. Klabunde's etchings develop in often surprising ways.

Associated American Artists, 1614 Latimer St., 545-7374. Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Prices start at $80. The exhibit opens tomorrow and runs through Oct. 1.