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Klingender, F. D.

    Full Name: Klingender, F. D.

    Other Names:

    • F. D. Klingender

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1907

    Date Died: 1955

    Place Born: Goslar, Lower Saxony, Germany

    Place Died: Manchester, Manchester, City and Borough of, England, UK

    Home Country/ies: United Kingdom

    Subject Area(s): Marxism


    Marxist art historian of British art; employed Kunstsoziologie in his writings. Klingender’s father, Louis Henry Weston Klingender (1861-1950), a native of Liverpool, was a painter of animals, a subject which the younger Klingender would return to himself late in life. His mother, also British, was Florence Hoette (Klingender) (d. 1944). In 1902 the family moved to Goslar in the Harz Mountain region of Germany. The younger Klingender was born there in 1907. At the outbreak of World War I, his father was interned on suspicion spying for England at a camp near Berlin. Francis Klingender attended the Goslar Gymnasium, graduating in 1925. His family returned to England shortly thereafter, but his father’s old-fashioned pictures were unsellable and the family lived in poverty, supported only by their son. Klingender attended evening classes at the London School of Economics and Political Science, where he specialized in sociology, working in the daytime for an advertising agency. He graduated in 1930, doing field research for the New Survey of London Life and Labour, organized by Sir Hubert Llewellyn Smith (1864-1945). He was a Ratan Tata research student between 1930 and 1932. He received his Ph.D. in 1934, writing his dissertation on the London workforce. In 1935 he published his Condition of Clerical Labour in Britain. Klingender’s unpopular views of the the British labor force made getting an academic job difficult. He lectured privately, becoming a member of the Executive Committee of the Artists International Association. John Grierson commissioned him to examine the financial underpinnings of the British film industry. His book Money Behind the Screen, appeared, meeting a controversial reception. Further work on British agriculture led to a Leverhulme research fellowship for 1939-40. Although his political views were troubling to military authorities, Klingender was prevented from acceptance in the military for health reasons. During the war, he researched the effects of the industrial revolution on the fine arts in England. The result, Art and the Industrial Revolution, was published in 1947. The following year his Goya in the Democratic Tradition appeared, another work researched during the war. Klingender came as a lecturer in sociology at the University of Hull, beginning in 1948. In 1951 he married Winifred Margaret Kaye. His work at Hull focused again on British labor issues. However, in 1953 and 1954 two articles appeared in the prestigeous, if maverick, Journal of the Warburg and Coutauld Institute on bird iconography in Franciscan altar pieces and Paleolithic art. Shortly before his death, he completed the manuscript for Animals in Art and Thought, what he hoped would be his magnum opus. Never in robust health and a life-long asthmatic, Klingender collapse and died suddenly in 1955. His manuscript for Animals in Art was edited by the wife of fellow Marxist art historian Frederick Antal. Klingender was an early exponent in English-language writing of Kunstsozialogie, a later more widely accepted art-historical method in the translated works of Arnold Hauser. In 1968 Arthur Elton revised and edited Klingender’s Art and Industrial Revolution softening many of Klingender’s hard-line Marxist arguments to make the book more palatable for newer audiences (Kitson). His arguments centered around the notion that a continuous tradition of realism began with prehistoric art and lasted until the age of non-objectivism, which was the sign of ultimate social decline. His book on Goya stated that it examine the artist’s art without concern for style, another tenet of strict Marxist view of art history.

    Selected Bibliography

    [dissertation:] The Black-coated Worker in London. London School of Economics, 1934; Animals in Art and Thought to the End of the Middle Ages. Edited by Evelyn Antal and John Harthan. London: Routledge & Paul, 1971; Art and Industrial Revolution. London: N. Carrington, 1947; Goya in the Democratic Tradition. London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1948; Marxism and Modern Art: An Approach to Social Realism. London: International Publishers, 1945; Hogarth and English Caricature. New York: Transatlantic Arts ltd., 1944; and Legg, Stuart. Money Behind the Screen. New York: Arno Press, 1978 (1937).


    Kleinbauer, W. Eugene. Research Guide to the History of Western Art. Sources of Information in the Humanities, no. 2. Chicago: American Library Association, 1982, pp. 132 mentioned, 134; Kleinbauer, W. Eugene. Modern Perspectives in Western Art History: An Anthology of 20th-Century Writings on the Visual Arts. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971, p. 79; Goya in Perspective. Edited by Fred Licht. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1973, p. 171 (personal account); Kitson, Michael. “Introduction to the Fifth Edition.” Waterhouse, Ellis K. Painting in Britain, 1530 to 1790. 5th ed. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994, pp. xvi and note 9, p. xxviii; Read, Herbert. “Intgroduction.” in Goya in the Democratic Tradition. 2nd ed. New York: Schocken Books, 1968; “Editors’ Foreword and Acknowledgements.” in Animals in Art and Thought to the End of the Middle Ages. Edited by Evelyn Antal and John Harthan. Cambridge, MA: M. I. T. Press, 1971, pp.xxiii-xxiv; Elton, Arthur. “Francis Donald Klingender 1907-1955.” Art and Industrial Revolution. 2nd ed. New York: Augustus M. Kelley, 1968, pp. vii-xi [obituaries:] “Dr. F. D. Klingender.: The Times (London) July 12, 1955, p. 11; addendum by J. S. H. “Dr. F. D. Klingender .” The Times (London), July 18, 1955, p. 11.


    "Klingender, F. D.." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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