Franz Kline - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale - Morning Session New York Wednesday, November 15, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

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

  • Catalogue Essay

    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.

Property from the Estate of B. S. Mars


Untitled (ZD 240)

oil on paper
24 1/2 x 18 7/8 in. (62.2 x 47.9 cm.)
Executed circa 1954.

$200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for $212,500

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
New York
+1 212 940 1261

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale - Morning Session

New York Auction 15 November 2017