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Franz Kline (1910-1962)
oil and paper collage on paper
13 ¼ x 10 5/8 in. (33.7 x 27 cm.)
Executed in 1961.
The Estate of Franz Kline, New York
Sidney Singer, New York, 1978
Roberto White, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1984

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Rachael White
Rachael White

Lot Essay

Franz Kline’s Untitled, 1961, exemplifies the American Abstract Expressionist's seminal return to color. Although most notably remembered for his bold, gestural paintings in black and white, Kline continually experimented with color throughout his life—from his early figurative works of the 1930s and 1940s, to later ones in his mature Abstract Expressionist style. Dominated by two blue-hued rectangles, the painting is flanked by bright oranges and soft corals and filled with a medley of greens, pinks, and dark blues. Intimately-scaled, the variegated, rare color palette of Untitled makes it a gem among his later works. Art critic Harry Gaugh declared: “The […] small works […] often prove just as impressive—and at times as outspoken—as the large paintings where bravado might be expected. The psychical range of these small works, likewise, is as unlimited as that of the larger ones” (Harry Gaugh, exh. cat., Washington D.C., The Phillips Collection, Franz Kline: The Color Abstractions, 1979, p. 22).
Kline had always been a devoted and committed colorist during his startlingly brilliant career, and he never completely abandoned color, even when working in his iconic black-and-white style. Kline, along with his good friend and contemporary, Willem de Kooning, also experimented with collage, creating complex, fragmented geometric compositions with torn papers. Untitled demonstrates the artist’s love of the thrill of unexpected juxtapositions as well as his mastery of color.
Untitled was painted in 1961, just one year before Kline's untimely death, and along with some 100+ paintings on paper formed the foundation of his Estate's collection. In the mid-1970s, the Guggenheim Museum brought the collection to the attention of Sidney Singer, who, with David McKee, arranged for its sale in bulk. Mr. Singer stored the collection at the Guggenheim for a period of time, a gracious gesture for which he donated several works to the museum's permanent collection in gratitude. Abstract, yet structural, the glowing composition of Untitled radiantly establishes Kline’s mastery of color and offers an opportunity to acquire one of Kline's late-life treasures.

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