157
157

PROPERTY FROM THE VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH UNIVERSITY FOUNDATION COLLECTION

Sam Francis
UNTITLED
Estimate
500,000700,000
LOT SOLD. 658,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
157

PROPERTY FROM THE VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH UNIVERSITY FOUNDATION COLLECTION

Sam Francis
UNTITLED
Estimate
500,000700,000
LOT SOLD. 658,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Day Auction

|
New York

Sam Francis
1923 - 1994
UNTITLED
acrylic on canvas
94 1/2 by 70 3/4 in. 240 by 179.7 cm.
Executed in 1974.
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This work is included in the Sam Francis: Catalogue Raisonné of Canvas and Panel Paintings, published by the University of California Berkeley Press (UC Press: 2011) under the number SFF.643 and is also registered in the archives of the Sam Francis Foundation with the number SFP74-51. This information is subject to change as scholarship continues by the Sam Francis Foundation.

Provenance

André Emmerich Gallery, Inc., New York
Private Collection, Los Angeles (acquired from the above in 1977)
Manny Silverman Gallery, New York
Private Collection, California (acquired from the above in 2001)
Gift of the above to the present owner

Exhibited

Chicago, Richard Gray Gallery, Sam Francis: An Exhibition of New Paintings, October - November 1975
New York, André Emmerich Gallery, Inc., Sam Francis: New Paintings and Works on Paper, May 1976

Literature

Exh. Cat., Kunstverein Ludwigsburg, Sam Francis: The Shadow of Colors–Aquarelle und Gouachen 1948-1984, 1995, illustrated in color (back cover)
Exh. Cat., Fundación Caja de Madrid, Sam Francis: Elementos y Arquetipos, 1997, p. 34, illustrated
Exh. Cat., Amsterdam, Gallery Delaive, Sam Francis: Remembering 1923-1994, 2004, p. 62, illustrated
Exh. Cat., Acqui Terme, Galleria Repetto, Sam Francis: Opere Scelte–Selected Works 1956-1991, 2008, p. 57, illustrated
Exh. Cat., Bratislava, Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum, Sam Francis: Retrospective in Blue, 2010, p. 253, illustrated
Debra Burchett-Lere, Ed., Sam Francis: Catalogue Raisonné of the Canvas and Panel Paintings 1946-1994, Berkeley 2011, cat. no. SFF.643, illustrated in color on the DVD

Catalogue Note

The variety and evolution of Sam Francis’s abstract works throughout the second half of the 20th Century speaks to an incredible journey of self-discovery for the artist. At the start of the 1970s, Francis experienced an intense creative re-invigoration, driven by the rediscovery of his love for layered, vivid pigment. While his passion is tangible in the frenetic strokes and vibrant, throbbing colors of these works, an overall grid structure organizes and focuses Francis’s vast creative energy. In Untitled, Francis achieves a perfect harmony between chaos and order, splatter and structure, eruptive creativity and the subtle, stabilizing brilliance of maturity.

During the 1960s, Francis’s abstraction underwent a series of startling seismic shifts. Moving away from his densely layered, hyper-activated canvases of the 1950s, his paintings become starkly open, flat, and minimal. In the aptly titled Edge paintings, the bright pigment - Francis’s true gift - rapidly retreats to the very borders of the canvas, leaving an unprecedented white void gaping at the center. Starting in 1970, Francis began to find his way out of that blank abyss and back into the explosive, colorful world he had previously inhabited. Slowly bringing his vibrant palette back into the center of his paintings, Francis rediscovered the joyful vitality that activated his earlier works. He began to work with a Pollock-like vigor, laying his canvas upon the floor and using a wet roller to crisscross powerful tracks of color across the surface. The resultant paintings hum with a creative force, an unbridled energy, that is absent from his paintings in the 1960s. Particularly evident in Untitled, this vibrant fission is stabilized by an underlying structural grid that, laser-like, gathers and focuses the frenzied energy of Francis’s brush. These Matrix paintings maintain a delicate balance between light and dark, energy and calm, chaos and order; at their most bewitching, Francis’s canvases approach the sublime.

In Untitled, beams of effervescent pigment converge at the center of the canvas in an eruption of color; as the eye moves out, this pulsating web clarifies into individual beams that firmly anchor the piece at the borders of the canvas. There is a strong, stabilizing verticality to the central form, though Francis never paints a single line. Instead, shimmering buds of yellow, turquoise, and scarlet bloom with abandon across the canvas, interspersed with pools of inky black and pinpricks of an electric, vibrant green. Between these interwoven beams of riotous pigment, zones of depthless white offer a quiet purity that counterbalances the frenetic energy of Francis’s brush. These spaces seem reserved for a moment of somber reflection, or perhaps, for a moment of intimate communion between artist and viewer. Within the colorful expanse of Untitled, the viewer is invited to share in Francis’s overwhelming enthusiasm for painting and, simultaneously, to marvel at his superb mastery of his own creative genius.

Contemporary Art Day Auction

|
New York