The Estate of Jean Rouge, Scottsdale (acquired directly from the artist)
Sotheby's, New York, May 16, 2007, lot 294
Acquired by the present owner from the above sale
Paris, Galerie Jean Fournier, Sam Francis: 1986 Oeuvres sur Toile et sur Papier, November 1986 - January 1987
Tokyo, Nantenshi Gallery, Sam Francis 1957-1986, January - February 1987
Toyama, Museum of Modern Art; Karuizawa, Museum of Modern Art Seibu Takanawa; Shiga, Museum of Modern Art; Kurashiki, Ohara Museum of Art; Tokyo, Setagaya Art Museum, Sam Francis, April 1988 - March 1989, cat. no. 17
Scottsdale Center for the Arts, The Paintings of Sam Francis from the Collection of Jean Rouge, March - June 1996, illustrated in color on the cover (detail)
In 1986, the California-born Abstract Expressionist Sam Francis was sixty-three years old and nearing the twilight of a successful international career that ultimately spanned six decades and multiple continents. With his West Coast colloquial ease and his virtuosic adoption of the color theories of modern French masters like Matisse and Bonnard toward a more luminous, high-keyed style of abstraction than was being practiced by his New York contemporaries, Francis made quick a success in European art circles. By the end of that decade, he had been hailed by Time magazine as "the hottest American painter in Paris" and had begun work on important commissions in Basel, New York, and Tokyo. His endless globetrotting over the decades that followed was likely driven by the same impetus that he claimed gave rise to his art, an inclination toward intensity of emotional feeling, wondrous examination of the human condition, and an affirming, optimistic bias toward freedom.
When the present canvas was painted by Francis in 1986 as part of a series of works to be exhibited in Paris at the Galerie Jean Fournier, the artist was, by his own account, in the midst of a particularly exuberant time. Francis had just completed a triptych of ceiling murals for the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, and his wife, the English painter Margaret Smith, was pregnant with Francis' fourth son, Augustus. Francis has commented that he gave expression to these feelings, to his sense of enduring virility as an artist and father and his enchantment at the miracle of fertility, in the works that were prepared for the Paris show, while studied observers have noted that in their masterful interplay between areas of dense color and openness – in their apparent pulling back of abstract forms toward the edges of the canvas to create a window onto another space entirely – the works pay homage to the technical breakthroughs Francis made in Paris in the mid 1950s. Both are, of course, possible. This alchemy, this ability to reconcile expressionist intensity with a sublime, affirming weightlessness born of light and color in balance, is the genius of Sam Francis.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale