The core of the Chrysler’s holdings in contemporary art are works acquired by Walter P. Chrysler, Jr. during the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, which were subsequently given to the Museum in the 1970s and 1980s. Major works by New York School artists Hans Hofmann, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, and Helen Frankenthaler, as well as Pop Art masterpieces by Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, and Andy Warhol capture the decisive moments in these artists’ careers and testify to the important history of the post-war period. Many significant contemporary works have since been acquired by artists as varied as Nam June Paik, Elizabeth Murray, and Sam Gilliam through direct acquisitions, as well as generous, individual donations.
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.