Franz Krone on Otto Franz Krone
wanted to be an artist. Art is really my whole life. Art is my life’s
baby. I have two things, being creative about my art, of course, number
one and then the games I worked on.
The other thing is I sincerely like people, all kinds of people. Some
of them I would do anything in the world for. I didn’t have a degree,
my life was this, and I would try and paint the feelings of people. I
would try to make my artwork reflect the feelings of people. For example,
some of the individual faces are very intense, but I wanted each one to
be different. Just like when some of the paintings and faces are merging
together. I wanted them to each be different but to somehow be the same
because we’re all individuals. We can walk down the street as a
group and we all look like we are a part of the same bunch, but yet each
of us has our own issues and our own ideas. The guy smiling next to you
might be a serial killer or he might be one of the nicest guys you ever
met. Somehow it comes out and it worked because I’ve had people
comment on it. Every picture you see in here, every one with every group
are self-portraits. That’s what going on in my brain, in my mind.
I am obsessed with faces. During the War II grew up fast and my art changed
from portraits to agony. They’re internal self-portraits of my internal
thinking. My mind. All these people crowding into my mind to get them
out and this is how I get them out. I paint them and I don’t have
to deal with them any more.
One thing you’ll find them repetitive but if you look at all the
paintings of all the faces you won’t see any that’s the same.
You may see similarities but that’s the same with the human race.
Everything I’m doing is totally creative, you know it’s coming
from my mind. It’s happening from my imagination. It’s happening
as I do it, because I don’t know what’s it going to look like
until I start putting it up there with rare exception there are rare exceptions.
Anyway wouldn’t expect stylistically they’re similar but at
the same time they’re different. A lot of these faces you see they’ve
metamorphosis into other things. They have other faces within themselves,
their own originality look has changed, sometimes direct, sometimes indirect.
One face that’s alone now has seven or eight other faces in it.
There’s the thing, what’s that saying about form follows form,
something follows something. The forehead, and then the eyebrows, the
nose, the mouth and the hair can be where the shadow would be, eyebrows
and another face. Over here comes over this cheekbone becomes a nice socket
here and another one over there and sometimes coming down the nose. Part
of the nose becomes a head by itself; part of the nostril becomes an eye
for someone else. But from a distance they look pretty much the same and
then you start looking at them closer and then you say this goes there.
As a matter of fact every thing here is related to each other. You can
take a single like on any part of this painting and follow it and it will
lead you every other part of the painting, another words, the part from
the cheek bones going into forehead going into hair which becomes a beard
for someone else or mustache for another person you know. You will not
see any ears and that are explained very simply. There’s a lot of
people around they’ve got a lot of problems but no body wants to
listen, no body is listening. We have ears but we don’t listen.
We have eyes but we don’t see, but we see a constructive view of
life. The way we think it should be or perhaps it actually is but then
we often ask ourselves, what is it? Is it really the way I think I see
it or is this my imagination? You look at things and you question it,
that’s what I do. I ask myself lots of questions, what am I doing?
When I start, I don’t know what it’s going to look like until
it’s done. I really do not know, I don’t know what’s
going to be in here other than other faces but now they’re going
to be described but I don’t know who I get there, you know what
The clusters of faces came right after World War II, I kept hallucinating
about all the places and all the things I had seen. It was like a nightmare,
all these faces would be talking, moving, crying. laughing and shouting.
They were all going in and out of each other, like this and so I started
drawing them. I’ve been obsessed with it ever since.
A caricature is when you exaggerate the design of the face or overdo it
just to overdo it. A character is to try to get inside the person, what
kind of character they are. Sut some of them come out looking a little
like caricatures, and are twisted this way and that because it’s
just the way they come out. When I’m drawing or painting I don’t
design everything. I study the other day and I noticed that these faces
over here are going on a diagonal. They look pretty much like what they
look like. They’re all different and there’s no repeating.
Doing portraits on the street, I could catch a likeness real quick when
I look at a person. Sometimes I worked on a drawing for 20 minutes, and
it doesn’t look like the person at all. I knew it was there. And
sometimes I come back and look at it, and my friends will be looking at
it, and they say, “You’re going to get it, Otto.”
I’ll tell you about oils, pastel. I wanted to learn to use every
medium; because I didn’t know which medium I really wanted to do.
I was told as a kid growing up that when a person becomes an artist, they
make a decision very early on in life which medium they’re going
to work in, and then they perfect it. I tried all the mediums and I discovered
that I liked them all. I would maximize my efforts so I could master it
and I could understand exactly what was done, and then it was easy. I
knew how to work with the color, I knew how to paint, how to draw. I could
go into detail. For example, pen and ink drawing, this is a copy of the
original, and that’s very detailed. I like to work with different
techniques. This one was published at the International portrait gallery.
I’ve done a lot of things like that. I’ve had a number of
things published. Every year they have a couple of art shows downtown.
My style of work is very eclectic. It can be very refined and detailed,
it can be very loose, it can be a little of everything. People have come
up to me to say, “I don’t know who did this.” It looks
so different. I’d say, “I don’t want to stagnate, I
don’t want to be robotic.” If I keep turning out the same
thing I might was well be printing it and then just signed my name to
it. I can take a painting in watercolor, and know how to print it so it
looks identical to an original. There’s a secret to doing it. You
lay the paper down after painting it, you’ve sized it with a protective
covering, then you put a mold over it, that is to say, a gesso layer over
it, and let it harden. Then you peel the gesso off and it has all the
configuration of the strokes of the brush, and all the water on it and
every detail. Lay that aside. Now take the original and put it in the
computer and you make a print of it. You print that on the mother mold
of the gesso, three-dimensional piece that you already made and peeled
off. You run it through a press, and it comes up. There is no way in the
world that you can look at that and say that was not an original. If you
have them both lying side by side, there’s no way to tell. But I