Zinc Yellow, 1959
Oil on canvas
After half a decade of notoriety as Abstract Expressionism’s “the black and white artist,” Kline reintroduced color into his art in 1955–56. Painted in Provincetown, Massachusetts, in the summer of 1959, the Chrysler’s Zinc Yellow is an important late work in which Kline enriched his traditional black-white imagery with color. A roughly slashed field of yellow on the right of the canvas—Kline sometimes worked with wide housepainting brushes—collides with an advancing wedge of black. Appearing spontaneous at first glance, the painting is the result of careful and deliberate planning, as is evidenced in Kline’s small oil study for Zinc Yellow (also in the Chrysler Collection.) As in much of Kline’s finest work, the effect is intensely exciting, yet somehow lyrical and contemplative.