Franz Kline (1910-1962)
Property from the Collection of Lee V. Eastman
Franz Kline (1910-1962)

Study for Cardinal

Franz Kline (1910-1962)
Study for Cardinal
signed with initials 'FK' (lower left)
ink on printed paper
8 x 6 in. (20.3 x 15.2 cm.)
Painted circa 1950.
Acquired from the artist
New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, American Contemporary Drawing, September-October 1964.
New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 20th Century American Drawings, January-August 1976.
Cincinnati Art Museum; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Philadelphia, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, The Vital Gesture: Franz Kline in Retrospect, November 1985-September 1986, pp. 88-89, no. 85 (illustrated).
Houston, The Menil Collection; New York, Whitney Museum of American Art and Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Franz Kline: Black and White 1950-1961, September 1994-June 1995, no. 4 (illustrated).

Lot Essay

As a key figure of action painting, Kline's work was action painting in its purest form. Frank O'Hara stated in his introduction to the Franz Kline Retrospective Exhibition in 1964: "To Kline, art meant power, power to move and to be moved. He is the Action Painter par excellence. He did not wish to be 'in' his painting, as Pollock did, but to create the event of his passage, at whatever intersection of space and time, through the world. Each painting is a complete and open declaration of feeling." (quoted in D. and C. Shapiro, Abstract Expressionism: A Critical Record, 1990, Cambridge and New York, p. 291).

Kline's restricted palette during the early 1950s allowed the artist to focus on formal concerns of composition and spatial movement through brushwork, paint application and the balance of forms. Study for Cardinal was a preparatory drawing for a larger painting that Kline would complete in 1950 and is currently in a private collection. The title Cardinal loosely refers to the name of a train that Kline remembered from growing up in a small coal mining town in Pennsylvania. As a child Kline was fascinated with railroads and while the title does not refer to actual shapes and forms, it does evoke a feeling or experience of motion. There is a sense of raw energy that is present in this work, which pushes and pulls the ink across the paper and yet there is also a sense of control, as the black vertical and horizontals are pulled back onto the surface of the paper by Kline's skillful handling of the white background.

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