192
192

WORKS FROM THE COLLECTION OF RICHARD E. LANG AND JANE LANG DAVIS

Franz Kline
UNTITLED
Estimate
200,000300,000
LOT SOLD. 800,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
192

WORKS FROM THE COLLECTION OF RICHARD E. LANG AND JANE LANG DAVIS

Franz Kline
UNTITLED
Estimate
200,000300,000
LOT SOLD. 800,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Day Auction

|
New York

Franz Kline
1910 - 1962
UNTITLED

Provenance

Estate of the artist
David McKee Gallery, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above in November 1979

Exhibited

New York, David McKee Gallery, Franz Kline, March 1975, n.p., illustrated 
Seattle Art Museum, The Richard and Jane Lang Collection, February - April 1984, cat. no. 27, p. 40, illustrated

Catalogue Note

Franz Kline made a bold impact on the history of art as one of the most prolific Abstract Expressionists and is far more complex—as a man and artist—than many realize. The present selection of five Franz Kline works from the Collection of Richard F. Lang and Jane Lang Davis brilliantly traces the artist’s oeuvre and offers a wonderful insight into Kline’s creative process and stylistic development. In 1970, the Langs set out in search of a painting for their new home, which led to the purchase of Kline’s Painting No. 11 and marked the beginning of their remarkable contemporary collection. Following this acquisition, the Langs went on to collect eleven works by Kline, ultimately capturing a magnificent cross-section of the artist’s illustrious career, all the while upholding their own demand for quality. These works highlight Kline’s range in subject matter and technique, from his early figurative foundation to the iconic black ink drawings, use of phonebook pages and finally a daring exploration in color just years before his early death in 1962. Kline’s paintings offer an encyclopedic range of concentrated expression based on human emotion only realized through the lasting articulation of abstract form. Kline’s work, at once intimidating and seductive, physically assertive and psychologically puzzling, devastating and ingratiating, ranks alongside his fellow Abstract Expressionists including Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko.

As the Lang’s collection grew to include major examples by American Abstract Expressionists including Rothko, de Kooning, Still and Kline they began to search for earlier, developmental works by these same artists in order to illuminate their artistic evolution. Within the New York School of Abstract Expressionism, Kline quickly established an individual idiom marked by dominant strokes executed with arresting energy and spontaneity. However, in discovering his true artistic style he experienced an on-and-off flirtation with abstraction during the forties before his eventual embrace of complete abstraction around 1950 as seen in these five examples.  The Lang’s refined eye and depth of collecting presents a carefully curated mini-retrospective spanning from 1945 to 1959, which traces Kline’s exploration of formal figure to the purest essence of line and form.

It is rare feat for an artist to master multiple genres of painting and even rarer for a collection to include examples from each pivotal development. Beginning with Untitled from 1945, Kline captures an everyday scene from one of his walks through the New York City streets where a trio of pigeons gathers and are rooted in space and time through the segmented forms and dense black line which are seen throughout his oeuvre. Kline’s Untitled from 1949 captures a shift in the artist’s energetic speed of gesture as he tests the balance between line and the definitions of spatial relationships. Seemingly small in scale but ever important for Kline’s development, Untitled from 1950 incorporates telephone book paper and boldly painted gesture. Kline would later transpose this work, line for line, into a much larger oil painting held today in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Kline’s traditional black and white abstraction was oftentimes first explored in color on a smaller scale as realized in Untitled from 1951 and 1957. Untitled from 1951 encapsulates the same energy as the 1949 work while paving the way for the densely colored frenzy of Untitled from 1957. Kline’s vigorously executed strokes of color are anchored in the structure of the white grid creating a tension between color and form marking a tangible product of the boost of artistic confidence the artist experienced just one year after signing with famed gallerist Sidney Janis.

One of the most iconic Abstract Expressionists, Franz Kline has proven himself to be one of the most idiosyncratic artists of the 20th Century. No other artist has commanded the use of monochromatic boldness and power of color, tension of line and space quite like Kline, all while pursing the extremes of his artistic vision in just fifty-one short years. The Lang’s collection of works by Kline capture the essence of Kline’s artistic output in a way that only true visionary collectors are able to discern.

"I don't think about adding color. I merely want to feel free to paint in color, or in black and white. I painted originally in color and finally arrived at black and white by painting the color out. Then I started only with color, white and no black—then color and black and white. I'm not necessarily after the same thing with these different combinations, for, though some people say that black and white is color, for me color is different."
Franz Kline

Contemporary Art Day Auction

|
New York