Heinrich Kley’s “Road Rage”


The sketch above, “Gasoline Stallion,” which these days might be renamed “Road Rage,” is one of my favorites by Heinrich Kley (1863-1945), the German illustrator. It was probably drawn early in the 20th century, when automobiles were beginning to overtake horses as primary transportation. In Kley’s illustration, a car that has some of the features of a horse lashes out at another car. Today we have too many cars, and the result is road rage. We rarely see such excellent free-hand drawings these day.

You can type “Heinrich Kley” into Google and see more of his work, which is often far too dark to warrant publication in a happy blog like this. For example, there is a man raping a church (anyway, that’s my interpretation). Even I don’t dare run that here! But I offer some tamer drawings by Kley.

Kley’s brief write-up on Wikipedia notes: “Cartoonist Joe Grant was well aware of Kley’s work and introduced his drawings to Walt Disney, who built an extensive private collection. A number of early Disney productions, notably Fantasia, reveal Kley’s inspiration. Due to Disney’s interest and reprints by Dover Publications, Kley is still known in the USA, while he is nowadays little regarded in Germany.”

According to thescreamonline.com, Kley also did “architectural paintings of building exteriors in Old Munich, Nuremberg, Bruchsal, Dresden, the harbor, Paris, Ostende, and the island of Helgoland in the North Sea,” though very few of these works appear in Google’s selection.

Thanks to Rob Steuteville, who sent out a call for cartoons and other illustrations for a new feature for The Public Square, which he edits for the Congress for the New Urbanism. Under the headline “Got a minute?” he wrote: “Every Friday on Public Square we will publish something brief and thought-provoking, like a cartoon, drawing, photograph, or slide, with a brief explanation. We are happy to get submissions for these.” I thank Rob for inspiring me to revisit Kley’s work. Maybe some of it will appear in The Public Square. Meanwhile, here are some that probably won’t:






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About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy, dbrussat@gmail.com, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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7 Responses to Heinrich Kley’s “Road Rage”

  1. Pingback: Heinrich Kley book trailers! | Architecture Here and There

  2. Joe Procopio says:

    Great approach to examining Kley’s work. For those interested, much more about Kley’s life and work can be found in my two books devoted to him, “The Lost Art of Heinrich Kley, Vols. 1 & 2” (from which I think a couple of these images were originally scanned).



    • Joe, thanks for your reply. Do you have, by any chance in your books, the one of a lady alligator carrying a parasol and crossing the street, only to discover that her tail has been cut off by a passing automobile? That was not among the many on the Internet. I will look up and possibly purchase your set, since my Dover set is trapped back in the clip-art archives of the Journal.


      • Joe Procopio says:

        I’m not sure, David. There are over 450 images in our books, and it gets hard to keep track (I’m at work and don’t have easy access to them at the moment). I will say that if that image appeared in your Dover set, then it likely is not in my volumes. There is intentionally almost no overlap between what’s in the “Lost Art of Heinrich Kley” and what can be found in the Dover books.


        • That’s interesting, Joe – no overlap! Excellent! Can you characterize how the selection in your set differs from that in the Dover set? I am mainly familiar with his dark and/or sensual sketches. When I was growing up, my father framed three more or less sensual Kleys and hung them in my parents’ bathroom. He gave me the Dover set, or at least I took it after he died, and have loved Kley deeply for a long time. Since I write about architecture I’d love to see some of the buildings I mentioned in my post. Are any of these in your set?


      • Lloyd says:

        I have that image for free if you will tell me where to send it. Since I have the original book, it is in there and I am able to scan and email. To where? so you must reply to me at – Lspider2@msn.com
        65 old man am I – lol


        • I have that book, too, but it is imprisoned in the editorial archives of the Providence Journal, where I was the first page designer (a duty in addition to writing my column and unsigned editorial) to use copyright-free images from great historical artists to illustrate oped pieces. It was rare that I could use a Kley because he is so dark, but I found a way on occasion. Unfortunately, when they laid me off I forgot to take those two books.


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