High Street
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
1971.121
People
Franz Kline, American (Wilkes-Barre, PA 1910 - 1962 New York, NY)
Title
High Street
Classification
Paintings
Work Type
painting
Date
1950
Places
Creation Place: North America, United States
Culture
American
Location
Level 1, Room 1200, Modern and Contemporary Art, Mid–century Abstraction I
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Physical Descriptions
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
sight: 147.64 x 196.85 cm (58 1/8 x 77 1/2 in.)
framed: 150.18 x 199.39 x 5.08 cm (59 1/8 x 78 1/2 x 2 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: l.r.: Kline
Provenance
[Charles Egan Gallery, New York, New York], 1950. [Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, New York] 1956, sold; to Lois Orswell, Promfret Center, Connecticut, gift; to Fogg Art Museum, 1971.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Lois Orswell
Copyright
© The Franz Kline Estate / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Accession Year
1971
Object Number
1971.121
Division
Modern and Contemporary Art
Contact
am_moderncontemporary@harvard.edu
Descriptions

Label Text: 32Q: 1200 Mid-Century Abstraction I (Painterly Abstraction) , written 2014
For Franz Kline, the series of paintings that includes High Street was a breakthrough, marking his transformation from an illustrator and sidewalk artist to a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement of the early 1950s. Made with housepainters’ brushes and cheap enamel house paint, the series has the monumental intensity and fierce directness that would come to characterize Kline’s subsequent work. Despite the spontaneous look of his canvas, however, Kline carefully planned these compositions in preliminary sketches. The calligraphic black forms often evoke urban landscapes, machinery, or the engines, bridges, and railroads of the artist’s Pennsylvania youth. But Kline sought complete abstraction, and he worked the white paint as aggressively as the black, giving it a sculptural quality and material presence. The result is a dense, rugged, allover ground that challenges the impulse to see the composition as identifiable black figures on a white background.

Publication History

Caroline A. Jones, Modern Art at Harvard: The Formation of the Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Collections of the Harvard University Art Museums, exh. cat., Abbeville Press/Harvard University Art Museums (New York, NY and Cambridge, MA, 1985), reproduced in b/w fig. 5, p. 16

Marjorie B. Cohn and Sarah Kianovsky, Lois Orswell, David Smith, and Modern Art, exh. cat., Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2002), cat. no. 87, fig. 131, pp. 321, 324 (repr. b/w), 376

Lois Orswell, David Smith, and Friends: Works from the Lois Orswell Collection, Harvard University, exh. cat., Knoedler & Co. Inc. (New York, 2003), p43

Stephan Wolohojian, ed., Harvard Art Museum/ Handbook, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 2008), p. 221, ill

Harry Cooper, Spatter and Daub: Harry Cooper on the Contradiction of Abstract Expressionism, Artforum (New York, 2011), XLIV, No. 10, pp. 317-319, p. 318, ill.

[Unidentified article], Fogg Art Museum Newsletter, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, February 1972), reproduced

Exhibition History

Franz Kline, Charles Egan Gallery, New York, 10/16/1950 - 11/04/1950

Master Paintings from the Fogg Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/13/1977 - 08/31/1977

Modern Art at Harvard, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 10/21/1985 - 01/05/1986

Lois Orswell, David Smith, and Friends: Works from the Lois Orswell Collection, Harvard University, Knoedler & Co. Inc., New York, 11/14/2003 - 01/24/2004

Re-View: S118 European & American Art since 1900, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 09/13/2008 - 04/09/2011

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Verification Level

4 - Best. Object is extensively researched, well described and information is vetted