Franz Kline

In the 1940s, Kline developed a distinctive abstract idiom consisting of wide, gestural strokes in black and white. This sheet, titled Chicago in reminiscence of a trip the artist took in 1957, is not a cityscape but a study in contrast and motion. Although the composition is dominated by dense concentrations of black ink, visible brushstrokes denote movement. Kline’s application of white paint—both directly on the paper and over black ink—heightens the sense of opposing forces meeting on the page. Kline once said, “The final test of a painting . . . Is: does the painter’s emotion come across?”

Franz Kline
American, 1910–1962
Chicago, 1959
Brush and black ink, white oil paint, and charcoal
Richard and Mary L. Gray, promised gift to the Art Institute of Chicago
Gray Collection Trust, Art Institute of Chicago
© Franz Kline / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Photography by Art Institute of Chicago Imaging Department