Franz Kline, ‘Untitled (ZD 240)’, ca. 1954, Phillips

Property from the Estate of B. S. Mars

From the Catalogue:
New York artist Franz Kline’s painterly style embodies the speed, action, and immediacy that characterized the Abstract Expressionist movement of the 1940s and 1950s. Though he began as a figurative painter, Kline developed his mature style by 1950, creating entirely abstract works devoid of representation. Focusing on black and white paintings in the first half of the decade, Kline increasingly re-introduced color into his palette in the mid-1950s and for the remainder of his career. Untitled (ZD 240) is a stunning example of one of Kline’s earliest experimentations with color, as thick swathes of greens, blues, reds and yellows extend across the composition, while drips of paint trickle down in overlapping forms. Kline’s interest in the value of contrast is readily apparent in the present lot – here, deep greens pop against bright reds, vibrant blues are juxtaposed against pinks, and soft yellows are situated against blacks. The sheet itself is entirely painted with an opaque, layered impasto surface, which showcases a boldness not typically likened to works on paper.

In describing Franz Kline’s oeuvre, renowned art critic Robert Goldwater noted in 1967 that the power of these works is “generated from within, by an immense internal unit, a swath or rectangle, a closed shape or a crossed one, that pushes and extends the perimeter until it has sufficient room to take its proper form” (Robert Goldwater, quoted in William S. Lieberman, An American Choice: The Muriel Kallis Collection, New York, 1981, p. 62). Untitled (ZD 240) exemplifies Goldwater’s view – the perimeter is marked on the upper and right edges by swaths of red and white. Yet rather than serve as boundaries, they seem to extend past the confines of the perimeter, pushing the composition outwards beyond its domestic scale. Furthermore, the bottom edge of the sheet is un-delineated, as Kline paints to the paper’s edge, allowing for drips of paint to fall beyond the border. Ultimately, the present lot confronts the viewer with Kline’s characteristic immediacy, yet what is most striking is the artist’s masterful use of color, which he continued to explore for the remainder of the decade.
Courtesy of Phillips

David McKee Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner

About Franz Kline

Abstract Expressionist Franz Kline is known for his large black-and-white paintings that treat the medium of oil with a calligraphic freedom, influenced by his acquaintance with Willem de Kooning. Kline viewed his gestural painting not as an expression of his emotions but as a means to create a physical form and presence that could be felt by the viewer, and would inspire Minimalist sculptors like Donald Judd and Richard Serra with his reluctance to attribute hidden meanings to his work. Starting in the late 1950s, Kline executed a series of monumental works, known as the "wall paintings," and began to reintroduce color to his black-and-white palette.

American, 1910-1962, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, based in New York, New York

Group Shows

2018
Abstract Expressionism Meets Modern Design
2017
AbExArt 3D
2017
2017
SIDNEY JANIS GALLERY HISTORIC POSTERS, INVITATIONS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
2010
2007
Fondazione Malvina Menegaz, 
Castelbasso, Province of Teramo, Italy,
Nel Segno della Materia - Pittura Informale Europea e Americana
View Artist's CV