Although trained in an academic tradition, Franz Kline is best known for his abstract, gestural compositions in black and white, boldly rendered with slashing strokes of paint (see 1973.636). He reached this mature style in 1950 after steadily purging representational imagery from his work. He made his first completely non-objective painting in 1946, around the same time he executed Still Life - Fruit.
Still Life - Fruit is thus a transitional work. While bordering on abstraction, the composition nonetheless shows vestiges of a recognizable arrangement of bananas and perhaps oranges or peaches in a compote. At the same time, the painting shares the characteristics of Kline's later pictures in its suggestion of a quickly executed, intuitive design. Kline's mastery of color is evident in the lively tones of yellow and orange that contrast with the pale blues and lavenders to create a vibrant and visually compelling image.