Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Day Auction


Sam Francis
1923 - 1994
acrylic on canvas
70 by 290cm.; 27 1/2 by 114 1/4 in.
Executed in 1980.
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Private Collection, Santa Monica
Jack Rutberg Fine Arts, Los Angeles
James Goodman Gallery, New York
Private Collection, New York
Russeck Gallery, Palm Beach
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner


Debra Burchett-Lere, Sam Francis, Catalogue Raisonné of Canvas and Panel Paintings 1946-1994, Berkley 2011, no. SFF 778, illustrated in colour

Catalogue Note

Magnificent in scope and ambition, Untitled is a gloriously vibrant painting that highlights Sam Francis' masterful approach to colour. Francis viewed colours as being representative of the four elements. Untitled can in turn be read as a dramatic confrontation between the two most diametrically opposed components of fire and water through the conjunction of bright red and rippling blue. Untitled exquisitely encapsulates these dichotomies, resulting in a painting that seems to pulsate with a visceral energy and a dynamic sense of movement.

By 1980, Francis had become increasingly fascinated by the writings of the philosopher Carl Jung, and was attempting to transmit his own reading of Jung’s theories into his paintings.  Jung’s Psychology and Alchemy, published in 1944 was a particular source of inspiration to Francis: the transformation of one substance into another echoes the artist’s beliefs. Jung’s theory that the process of alchemical transformation mirrored the journey of the soul was also shared by Francis: “Alchemy has to do with the transformation of personality… It has to do with the psyche” (the artist, cited in Ibid., p. 201). Ultimately Untitled can be viewed as an intensely powerful work on multiple levels, superbly combining Francis’ major creative and intellectual theories to create a painting of astounding power and complexity.

Contemporary Art Day Auction