Returning to the United States in 1938 after a few years studying abroad, Franz Kline worked briefly as a designer for a department store in Buffalo before he settled in New York. At first he painted cityscapes, landscapes, and portraits, but things soon changed when he met artists like Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, kindred painters searching for something new.
Kline’s creative process in his mature work often began with drawings and sketches—not as plans for a specific abstract painting but to develop a theme or mood he was interested in exploring. He applied black and white paint with housepainting brushes, working with one color, then the other in turn. Kline then set the unfinished painting aside until it had taken further shape in his mind. This might happen several times before he felt a painting was complete. One of Kline’s goals was to balance the black and white, with neither appearing as foreground or background. Although in Requiem, black appears to cover more of the surface, the intensity of the white in certain areas, along with small white drips on the darkest shades of black, helps equalize the two tones.
Label from Sincerely Yours: Treasures of the Queen City, July 5–September 14, 2014