Being in the unique position to review the art work of Fred Kahler and no longer associated with him, I’ve decided to share some of my insights, gathered over a 5 year period, and created this Fred Kahler Art Review site. There’s also a blog on the life and times of Fred Kahler and his art Fred Kahler Art blog
. Having scanned and color corrected about 30 works at high resolution gave me the opportunity to view them at, at least, 300% of original size. This was a real advantage when you consider the showing at AVAM
(American Museum of Visionary Art), where they hung magnifying glasses on a string beside each one of his works. Working with a nib steel point and holder (as depicted above), or as Fred, for whatever reason, likes to call it, a quill pen, some drafting tools from his kitchen designer days, to create the geometry, inks for drawing and coloring, Fred Kahler creates works that are like well crafted jewels sparkling with hundreds of little, seemingly nonsensical, mythological looking drawings. I say “mythological looking “ because, I can’t find any mythology in them. They contain images of good and evil, beauty and the beast. I think, the comments from Laurence Caruana
, author of the well written and insightful ’Manifesto of Visionary Art
’, when he said “It (Kahler’s work) seems to reproduce, authentically, the interior state of his soul... the thousand and one images and voices that flow through the mind at any given moment... a true reflection of the kaleidoscopic inner universe.” are the most perceptive, accurate and nonromantic description of Fred Kahler’s work. The way the images are so condensed yet effortlessly flow through the geometry and pulls you in, what feels like, a mythological still life of Disney’s ‘Fantasia’. Laurence Caruana also said, in the same eMail, “His (Kahler) work is definitely 'outsider', 'raw' or 'l'art brut' - even if the man himself may be fairly lucid rather than insane. It has all the markings of this type of art (Lesage
) while being unique and authentic onto itself.”. Other comments, including Fred's own words
, on Fred’s work allude to the mystery coded messages that can only be read by or sent from future generations. I kinda like this Carl Sagan quote: “Life is but a momentary glimpse of the wonder of this astonishing universe, and it is sad to see so many dreaming it away on spiritual fantasy.” I enjoy Fred’s work just as it is, without the idea of spirits or aliens guiding his hand. Knowing Fred and how he works, I find it hard to believe there is anything more than Fred Kahler, as Fred said, “I’m just a doodler doodling.” Over the years of listening to Fred talk about his work with so many inconsistencies, and his heavy use of cannabis, makes me doubt the validity of any supernatural influence. I’m not saying that spirits and/or aliens don’t guide his hand, I’m just saying, I find it hard to believe. Whether it’s natural or supernatural influences, Fred Kahler creates some amazing, superbly drawn, mind boggling imagery. It is a real shame that, currently, there is nowhere showing his original work; they really are a sight to behold.
Reproductions - Prints and Posters Review
The very first work by Fred Kahler I ever saw was ‘Kubera’, it’s also the detail I use in the print vs the original comparison. I thought it was a really nice work, that is until I saw the original. I could never again look at the print in the same way. I told Fred then, that the technology for creating a reproduction was much better now and that we could easily create some really spectacular prints. With complete disregard for any consideration of quality, he now has a storefront website that only show these sub standard prints created with the late 1980s technology. I say below the detail image of one those prints, “may or may not” is because a website can change quickly and after this Print Review, they may want to reconsider selling these prints at all. As I said in the review above, "Fred Kahler creates works that are like well crafted jewels". Well, these prints are like cheap costume jewelry. If you have never had the pleasure of seeing the originals, you may think these prints are worthwhile. Anyway, a picture is worth a thousand words, so just fix your eyes on the center circle and move your cursor on and off of the detail image below and no more need be said. If you can’t see the difference, you should buy one of them at Kahler prints. Still, the questions begs: why would Fred try to sell these sub standard prints when he has, at his finger tips, perfect high resolution scans? It has never made any sense to me.
The detail comparison of 'Kubera' is 3x the actual size.
In 2009 Fred and I published a limited quantity of his ‘Unity’ as posters. I took great effort to faithfully recreate this amazing work of art, from the high resolution scans, all the way through the offset printing process. These posters, when completed were, and still are, the best reproductions of any of Fred Kahler’s work. Now just as a point of reference, when I was acting as Fred’s agent, a collector offered $55,000 for the original ‘Unity’. I thought that was a pretty good price. Fred rejected that offer saying, he won’t except anything less than twice that amount. Unfortunately, due to erroneous copyright issues, the posters were removed from distribution, but they will be distributed again soon. Fred signed only 24 posters, and not that many were sold, making these a rare find, so if you can find them on eBay or other such sites, you’ll really have a fine piece of Fred Kahler art.
The detail comparison of 'Unity' below is 3x the actual size.