My SAM Favorites (No. 3 in a Series)

It was my high-school art teacher who introduced me to the work of Abstract Expressionist Franz Kline. He knew I was drawn to anything rendered in stark black and white. Given that my main artistic interest was sumi brush paintings, he encouraged me to explore Kline's work as a way of nudging me out of my narrow view. At first, I thought Kline's thick-brush slashings were too harsh and aggressive, as if he were an aggravated New Yorker trying to co-opt the contemplative work of the old masters—which, in a way, he was. But this past weekend at SAM, I stopped to consider his Cross Section from 1956, one of Virginia and Bagley Wright's gifts to the museum. I sat and stared at the piece, and stared some more. Then I could see it, buried deep in the hues of black and in the various shades of cream—a gentle, meditative quality. Similar to listening to Lou Reed's new album, Hudson River Wind Meditations, there is calm in everything, if you just pay it enough attention.

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