Franz Kline & Joachim Probst

by Peter Hastings Falk

Joachim Probst with Franz Kline at Quarry Hill, Vermont, c.1950

Franz Kline’s unique style of boldly slashing brushstrokes in black and white was revealed in his first solo exhibition in 1950, which was highly successful. As his fame grew, critics opined that his source of inspiration was Japanese calligraphy. Kline denied it. The more pervasive (and possibly apocryphal) story is that in 1948 or 1949 de Kooning showed Kline the stunning effect of using a projector to enlarge his small black drawings on the studio wall. But Kline always insisted that the source was his own unconscious. However, the recent discovery of a lengthy journal — titled Secret Writings — by Joachim Probst [1913–1980] reveals that his own black and white ink wash paintings were the catalyst for what became Kline’s mature style. Kline had met Probst shortly after he settled in New York in 1938. The two lived nearby in the West Village and became close friends. For example, some of the works in this auction are identified as being created at Quarry Hill, a large Vermont farm to which Kline and Probst traveled together. Kline’s appreciation of Probst for having served as a catalyst for his breakout style is perhaps the reason that Kline later titled one of his canvases Probst I (1960) now in the collection of Museum of Fine Arts Boston — which at nine feet tall is one of his largest. 

Peter Hastings Falk's complete article will be published in the online art magazine, DiscoveriesInAmericanArt.com

SPANIERMAN

The Preeminent Gallery for American Art

For more than fifty years, Spanierman Gallery cultivated a reputation as one of the country’s preeminent galleries dedicated to American Art. Founded by Ira Spanierman in 1961, the gallery initially offered a wide selection of material, including silver, arms and armor, Old Master, European and American art. Over time, Spanierman chose to focus exclusively on American art, a move that would establish the gallery as a tour-de-force in the field. Well-known for his outstanding ‘eye’ and dedication to connoisseurship, Spanierman was trusted by institutions and private collectors alike. The gallery was known to have sold to hundreds of museums across the United States and abroad while fostering the development of some of the country’s most prestigious private collections. 

In addition to its reputation as a dealer, Spanierman Gallery was esteemed in the industry for its dedication and support of art scholarship. As a young man starting off in the business, Ira Spanierman recalled researching and identifying paintings through tedious research at the Frick Art Reference Library. These hours of study left an indelible mark on Spanierman who would go on to publish catalogue raisonnés for artists such as Theodore Robinson, John Henry Twachtman, Willard Metcalf, and co-sponsor the catalogue on the work of Winslow Homer. 

When Spanierman Gallery closed in 2014 an impressive inventory remained. We are pleased to be offering a selection of these works in our upcoming auctions. Paintings and sculpture by artists such as John Haberle, Childe Hassam, Walter Schofield, Ibram Lassaw, Theodoros Stamos, George Segal and Patrick Procter among others, will be offered over two days. The sales also features work from a few of the estates acquired by the gallery, such as: Burgoyne Diller, Gershon Benjamin, Hayley Lever, Charles Warren Eaton, Sears Gallagher and Abraham Bogdanove.