Untitled (Study for Mahoning)
Not on view
Opaque watercolor on paper
Sheet: 8 15/16 × 11 1/8in. (22.7 × 28.3 cm) Mount (board): 12 × 14 3/4in. (30.5 × 37.5 cm)
Purchase, with funds from the Drawing Committee and Kathleen and Richard S. Fuld
Rights and reproductions
© The Franz Kline Estate/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Although the sweeping, gestural strokes of Franz Kline’s signature black and white paintings appear spontaneous, many of his large-scale abstractions were carefully adapted from earlier sketches and studies, including the painting entitled Mahoning, in the Whitney’s collection. Mahoning was based on this small, preliminary drawing that the artist initially made on a page of a telephone book and later projected onto a large canvas. Fascinated by the force and drama created by enlarging the intersecting lines of the preparatory sketch, Kline noted, “there’s an excitement about the larger areas, and I think you confront yourself much more with a big canvas.” Kline particularly enjoyed drawing on the pages of telephone books, whose print pattern prevented an illusion of receding perspective; he retained this flattened picture plane when he transferred his small-scale drawings to large canvases.