The late David Klein, a long-time resident of Brooklyn Heights, was the creator of a prolific body of artwork, including a popular series of iconic posters promoting travel on TWA jets in the 1950s and ’60s.
He drew a firework-studded sky behind the gleaming Eiffel Tower to introduce Boeing’s 707 service, an opulent elephant to draw tourists to India, and an abstract, block-color portrait of Times Square that glitters with implied activity. He also made a dramatic bull-fighting poster for Spain, captured the Golden Gate Bridge in geometric elegance and more for several dozen travel destinations. Klein’s use of bright colors, engaging iconic themes and evocative imagery has meant that his posters have become collectors’ items.
A book featuring the work of various artists titled, The Art of the Airways, by Geza Szurovy, was released in 2002, and included several of Klein’s posters. Klein didn’t live to see the book, as he died in 2005, but the honors go on — an exhibit of his work, “Up, Up and Away! Iconic Vintage Posters of the Jet Age,” has just opened at Scott and Bowne gallery in Kent, Conn., and will run through Oct. 16.
Born in El Paso, Texas, Klein settled in Brooklyn Heights in the ’40s, where he lived with his wife, Betsy. His Henry Street studio was included in the Brooklyn Heights Association in 1994; as tour literature declared at the time, the pieces of art to be seen in his studio “express a joy in the art of collecting.”
In addition to his work for TWA, Klein made posters for Radio City Music Hall and Broadway shows, and more recently, for the first major ad campaign of Orbitz.com. For several years Klein taught illustration at Pratt Institute, and his work was selected for inclusion in MoMA.