Lot 109
  • 109

Franz Kline

600,000 - 800,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Franz Kline
  • Untitled
  • signed and dated 58 on the reverse
  • oil on canvas
  • 78 1/4 by 52 in. 198.7 by 132 cm.


Acquired directly from the artist


Turin, Galleria Civica D'Arte Moderna, Franz Kline, November - December 1963, no. 42, n.p., illustrated
Kunsthalle Basel, Franz Kline, January - March 1964, cat. no. 42
London, Whitechapel Gallery, Franz Kline, May - June 1964, cat. no. 41
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Franz Kline 1910-1962, October - November 1968, cat. no. 42, p. 40
Washington, D.C., The Phillips Collection; Houston, Rice University, The Institute for the Arts; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Seattle Art Museum, Franz Kline: The Color Abstractions, February - November 1979, cat. no. 16, p. 66, illustrated in color

Catalogue Note

By 1958, Franz Kline was a highly regarded member of the Abstract Expressionist movement and at the height of his abilities. This was a fertile time for his artistic production and he had begun to explore new ways of expanding his visual language beyond the striking black and white canvases that brought him to the forefront of the art world. The visual dimensions he added over this period served to heighten the visual impact of his already tremendously affecting works as demonstrated by Untitled of 1958.


In many ways, Untitled bears the hallmarks of other successful works in Kline’s oeuvre. The compact composition and layered vertical forms would be echoed in Harley Red of 1959-1960. In both works, Kline uses a planar composition with a layering of forms to produce a sense of volume and depth. Moreover, Kline compressed his dynamic black bars, which typically tear across and beyond the edges of his canvases, into a coiled and tense configuration in the center. Indeed, one can sense in Untitled that Kline reined in the expansion found in earlier works such as 1956’s Green Oblique (Study for de Medici) with a tremendous force that threatens to explode out of the canvas.


These comparisons serve to illustrate another facet of Kline’s evolving artistic practice, namely, his increasingly confident use of color. His later works serve as ample evidence that Kline was not exclusively focused on calligraphic compositions of black strokes on white fields. With Untitled, Kline laid down a bold composition anchored by the large emerald green field seemingly possessing an internal light. This is balanced against black gashes framing a deep sapphire stake and layers of worked and reworked paint revealing additional reds, oranges and creams, which fade in and out of sight.


Kline painted Untitled in a period when he was not only exploring the possibilities of color, but had also become increasingly interested in developing textures on the canvas. Untitled’s particularly energetic brushwork has produced a thick impasto that ripples on the canvas. Kline scratched away these skeins of pigment with the blunt end of his brush, revealing the white canvas underneath. Untitled thereby possess both a metaphorical depth as well as a physical one.