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Franz Kline

Artwork Details

Franz Kline
oil on cardboard mounted on board
30 3/16 in x 40 3/16 in (76.68 cm x 102.08 cm);31 1/8 in x 41 1/4 in x 1 1/2 in (79.06 cm x 104.78 cm x 3.81 cm)
Bequest of W. Hawkins Ferry


March 28, 2009
Kline’s works of the 1950s and 60s are classic New York School paintings, serving, along with Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings and Willem de Kooning’s women, as icons of this important period in American art. Here the dynamism of the black and white lines that crisscross the canvas imparts a strong impression of the vigorous gestures of the painter, and the action of painting. Despite their sense of the accidental or spontaneous, these paintings were actually very carefully composed. Kline would work out the balance between black and white with preparatory sketches, often done in ink wash on the pages of disused phonebooks, which he would tear and rearrange in order to arrive at the right relations. He would then translate the small drawing to the grand scale characteristic of New York School paintings. Kline introduced key touches of color into his later work, as in this example.

Subject Matter:

“Untitled” is typical of Kline’s work during the 1950s and 60s, his use of strong lines of black and white paint imparts a sense of the artist’s hand, creating a cacophony of line and gesture. Despite the appearance of the accidental, this work is actually very carefully conceived and consciously constructed. The balance between black and white, volume and void, is precisely thought out while expressing an urgency and vitality.

Physical Description:

Abstract painting composed of long broad brushstrokes in black and white with a small area of red in the upper left quadrant.

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