Franz Kline (American, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1910–1962 New York)

Enamel on canvas
45 1/2 x 34 7/8 in. (115.6 x 88.6 cm)
Credit Line:
The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection, Gift of Muriel Kallis Newman, 2006
Accession Number:
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • Description

    Kline was married to a ballet dancer, Elizabeth Parsons, who, like the famous Russian dancer Nijinsky, suffered from schizophrenia. Kline made several portraits of Nijinsky during his early years, when he worked as a commercial illustrator. This work, however, does not depict the dancer. It is one of the first in Kline’s mature style, developed over the winter of 1949–50. During a visit to de Kooning’s studio, Kline saw one of his own sketches enlarged with an overhead projector. For the
    first time he saw that his calligraphic studies, which were made on the pages of a telephone book, worked well as large pictures.
    This canvas was included in Kline’s first one-man show at Charles Egan’s gallery. The titles were created, more or less arbitrarily, by a committee composed of Egan,
    Elaine and Willem de Kooning, and Kline. The zig-zag line at bottom left may have reminded Kline of the ruff that Nijinsky wore in an earlier portrait of him as Petrouchka.

  • Provenance

    Charles Egan Gallery, New York, acquired from the artist, 1950 - May 1952; Mr. and Mrs. Jay Z. Steinberg, Chicago, purchased from Egan, May 1952 - gift of Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2006.

  • Exhibition History

    "Franz Kline," Charles Egan Gallery, New York, October 16-November 4, 1950 (no catalogue).

    Likely included in Kline exhibition organized by Hugo Weber, Institute of Design, Chicago, January 1954 (no catalogue).

    Quattro artisti americani: Guston, Hofmann, Kline, Roszak, XXX Biennale Venice, 1960, no. 27, pp. 36 (ill. pl. 27, upside down), 50.

    An American Choice: The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, May 21-September 27, 1981, exh. cat. by William S. Lieberman, pp. 64 (ill.), 65, 155.

    Franz Kline: Black and White, 1950-1961, Menil Collection, Houston, September 8-November 27, 1994, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, December 16, 1994-March 5, 1995, and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, March 25-June 4, 1995, exh. cat. by David Anfam (author), David Whitney (guest curator for the Menil Collection), Walter Hopps, Susan Davidson, pp. 15, 18 (essay by David Anfam), 35 (ill. pl. 1), 112 (no. 1).

    Abstract Expressionism and Other Modern Works: The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, September 18, 2007 - February 3, 2008, exh. cat. edited by Gary Tinterow, Lisa Mintz Messinger, and Nan Rosenthal, no. 33, pp. 5 (ill.), 104-105 (ill.), 106-107 (essay by Pepe Karmel).

  • References

    Sabro Hasegawa, "The Beauty of Black and White," Bokubi (Tokyo), 12/4, 1951, pp. 34 (ill.), 37, and repro of the Egan Gallery's invitation to the 1950 Franz Kline show, pp. 39-40.

    Elaine de Kooning, "Two Americans in Action: Franz Kline, Mark Rothko, Art News Annual, vol. 27, 1958, p. 91 (ill.).

    Elaine de Kooning, "Franz Kline: Painter of his Own Life," Art News, vol. 61, no. 7, November 1962 (reprint of the essay in the 1962 Kline exhibition at the Washington Gallery of Modern Art), pp. 30 (ill.), 69.

    Lee Nordness, ed., Art: USA: Now (New York: Viking Press, 1963), volume I, p. 192 (ill.).

    Eleanor Page, "She Lives in an Art Museum," Chicago Tribune, September 13, 1964, section 3, p. 3.

    Barbara Rose, American Art Since 1900: A Critical History (NY: Frederick A. Praeger, 1967), pp. 174, 203 (ill. no. 7-15).

    Harry F. Gaugh, "The Art of Franz Kline, 1930-1950: Figurative to Mature Abstraction" (unpublished PhD dissertation, Indiana University, 1972), p. 235, ill. fig. VI, 17.

    H.H. Arnason, History of Modern Art (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1977), p. 527 (ill. fig. 903).

    Judith Goldman, "Collecting in Chicago: Love Affairs with Art," Artnews, vol. 78, no. 2, February 1979, p. 49.

    Alice Hess, "Great Private Collections: A Chicago Visionary," Saturday Review, 7, no. 14, October 1980, pp. 3, 72-75.

    Grace Glueck, "Met is Given a $12 Million Art Collection," New York Times, December 10, 1980, p. 21.

    Anonymous, "Chicagoan Gives Art to N.Y. Museum," Chicago Sun-Times, December 11, 1980, p. 8.

    Dale Edward Fern, God Nijinsky: A realization for the Theatre, created for "The Diary of Vaslav Nijinsky" in performance (New York: Dale Edward Fern, 1981), reproduced (upside down) on the dust jacket.

    Hilton Kramer, "Modernist Show Moves Met Firmly into Art of 20th Century," The New York Times, May 22, 1981, pp. C1, C21 (ill.).

    Grace Glueck, "Is Chicago Losing Out in The Art War?," New York Times, August 2, 1981, Arts and Leisure section, section 2, p. 1.

    Harry F. Gaugh, The Vital Gesture: Franz Kline, exh. cat. (Cincinnati: Cincinnati Art Museum and New York: Abbeville Press, 1985), pp. 70, 71, 73, 82, 87, 96, 157.

    Eugene Victor Thaw, "The Abstract Expressionists," The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., vol. 44, no. 3, Winter 1986/87, pp. 38 (ill. no. 31), 39, 47.

    Mario Naves, "Art: Graphic Artist" (review of exh. Franz Kline: Black & White, 1950-1961, in 1994-95), The New Criterion, vol. 13, no. 6, February 1995, p. 44.

    Paul Brach, "Urban Grit," Art in America, April 1995, pp. 96-99 (discussion of works in exh Franz Kline: Black & White, 1950-1961, 1994-95), pp. 97, 98 (ill.).

    Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, ed., Franz Kline, 1910-1962, exh. cat. (Milan: Skira, 2004), pp. 307 (checklist of Kline 1950 exh. at Egan, and ill.).

    "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection, 2005-2006," The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 64, no. 2, Fall 2006, p. 61 (entry by Nan Rosenthal).

  • See also