56
56

PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF JANE AND MARC NATHANSON, LOS ANGELES

Sam Francis
UNTITLED
Estimate
800,0001,200,000
JUMP TO LOT
56

PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF JANE AND MARC NATHANSON, LOS ANGELES

Sam Francis
UNTITLED
Estimate
800,0001,200,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York

Sam Francis
1923 - 1994
UNTITLED
numbered SFP 79-51 four times on the overlap and nine times on the stretcher
acrylic on canvas
120 1/4 x 96 in. 305.4 x 243.8 cm.
Executed in 1979.
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Provenance

Manny Silverman Gallery, Los Angeles (acquired from the artist, SFP79-51)
Acquired by the present owner from the above in March 1988

Exhibited

Paris, Galerie Jean Fournier, Sam Francis, October – November 1979

Literature

Deborah Burchett-Lere, ed., Sam Francis: Catalogue Raisonné of the Canvas and Panel Paintings 1923-1994, Berkeley, 2011, cat. no. 721, illustrated in color on DVD

Catalogue Note

Beginning in 1970, a surge of forceful creative energy returned to Sam Francis’s practice, imbuing the paintings that he created in that decade with a resonance and almost explosive power reminiscent of his transformative canvases of the 1950s. Working with unparalleled concentration and consistency, Francis generated during these years a corpus of paintings that comprise some of the masterpieces of his oeuvre. With its engulfing scale, chromatic intensity and striking compositional beauty, Untitled, 1979, is situated at the very pinnacle of this crucial period of the artist’s prodigious career. Like Jackson Pollock, Francis placed the monumental canvases for works such as Untitled on the floor, often standing at the very center and working his way, freely and openly, out to all four sides. He took to tracing broad bands of color across his surfaces through the use of a wet roller, creating a matrix of structural beams from which he built out, adding pools, splatters and drips of paint by hand to form a dense and active surface. Signs of an underlying grid, painted in a deep, piercing blue hue, are evident in Untitled, which is arresting in its textural variety and the vibrancy of its palette. Here, Francis united the stable architectural network to its apparent opposite, the ceaseless flow of loose, painterly color, a union that had characterized his art from the very beginning. Nearly all of Francis’s paintings from this time feature a repeated crossing and re-crossing of tracks of pigment, which are then interrupted by stabilizing elements in the form of small square windows of open space. The composition of Untitled is likewise punctuated by these beautifully still moments of pause, areas reserved for the viewer amid the frenetic activity of color and banding around them. There is immense diversity and a sense of constant surprise and rediscovery in the paintings of the 1970s, which hit their apex in 1978 and 1979. An absolutely stunning exemplar of these outstanding years, Untitled epitomizes the eloquent words of Donald Kuspit, who described Francis’s art as possessing a “sense of finished form while maintaining a sense of formlessness: he heroically wrests classical beauty out of romantic chaos.” (Donald Kuspit, “Sam Francis’s Changing Face,” in Exh. Cat., Madrid, Fundación Caja de Madrid, Sam Francis: Elements and Archetypes,  1997, p. 206)

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York