157
157

PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF EUGENE AND PENELOPE ROSENBERG

Sam Francis
UNTITLED
Estimate
100,000150,000
LOT SOLD. 146,500 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
157

PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF EUGENE AND PENELOPE ROSENBERG

Sam Francis
UNTITLED
Estimate
100,000150,000
LOT SOLD. 146,500 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Day Auction

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London

Sam Francis
1923 - 1994
UNTITLED

Executed in 1957, this work is identified with the interim research number of SF57-060 in consideration for the forthcoming Sam Francis: Catalogue Raisonné of Unique Works on Paper. This information is subject to change as scholarship continues by the Sam Francis Foundation.

Provenance

Gimpel Fils, London
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner

Exhibited

Tokyo, Toyoko Department Store Gallery; Osaka, Kintetsu Department Store Gallery, The Adventure of Today's Painting: the Art of Sam Francis and Toshimitsu Imai, 1957
Wakefield, Wakefield City Art Gallery, Personal Choice 2, 1961, no.119
London, The Warwick Arts Trust, Sam Francis in Britain, 1984, no.37

Catalogue Note

Executed at a significant turning point in Sam Francis’ career, Untitled is a consummate example of the master of abstraction’s illustrious practice. At this time Sam Francis would gradually move away from his primary focus on monochromatic fields to explore the energy released by the diaphanous, pure background and potency of white juxtaposed with the impulsive application of vivid hues.

During this pivotal year, Francis left Paris after a stay of eight years to travel around the world, and experienced the ever-changing qualities of different light whilst becoming predisposed to various traditional techniques. Japan in particular made a profound and long-lasting impression on the artist. He not only amassed many Japanese benefactors and friends but importantly kept a studio in Tokyo for the rest of his life. Francis was very taken by the traditional arts of Japanese Haboku and Hatsuboku– abstracted landscape paintings made with splashes of ink. The deep-rooted influence and respect of East Asian aesthetics and philosophy can unquestionably be seen when looking at the almost calligraphically articulated shapes and hatsuboku-like gestural splashes of freely cast watercolour displayed in Untitled.

The luminosity of the rich colours swirling and dripping in an exquisitely subtle pattern is heightened by the stretch of untouched ivory paper that elevates them from below. Francis’ acknowledgement of white as a colour in its own right echoes the important Buddhist concept of ‘the void’. More than the detachment from worldly pursuits, the notion of the void in Oriental philosophy applies to “intellectual activities and aesthetic delights”; it is “the lasting peace of silence, the bliss of annihilation” (Ray Billington, Understanding Eastern Philosophy, London 1997, p. 145). Contrasting with the graceful yet dynamic bursts of fiery gold and cobalt, the immaculate background constitutes a strong, grounding force, a vibrating presence. For Sam Francis, white is “ringing silence, an endless, ultimate point at the end of your life” (Sam Francis quoted in Peter Selz, Sam Francis, New York 1975, p. 64); whilst colour is “light on fire. Each colour is the result of burning, for each substance burns with a particular colour” (Sam Francis quoted in: Jan Butterfield, Sam Francis, Los Angeles 1980, pp. 9-10).

Contemporary Art Day Auction

|
London