Untitled

  • Franz Kline, Untitled, ca. 1959, oil, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase, 1971.259

Exhibition Label
In the mid 1950s, having worked in black and white for more than five years, Kline reintroduced color. The short, choppy strokes and disharmonious swaths of yellow and red in Untitled make for a restless composition. The black shape, a central element in many of Kline’s paintings, resembles a form he used repeatedly in drawings of his wife Elizabeth, who was hospitalized for depression and schizophrenia for more than a decade. Asked at the time why he had portrayed her head as an empty square, he replied, “She isn’t there anymore.” Squares occur often in Kline’s work, and it is tempting to link the charged energy of the black form in Untitled with his long-standing, if rarely voiced, distress over Elizabeth’s continued illness.

Modern Masters: Midcentury Abstraction from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2008
Title
Untitled
Artists
Date
ca. 1959
On View
Not on view.
Dimensions
24 x 19 in. (61.0 x 48.3 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Museum purchase

Mediums
Classifications
Keywords
  • Abstract
Object Number
1971.259
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI