177
177

PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE COLLECTION

Sam Francis
UNTITLED
Estimate
600,000800,000
LOT SOLD. 674,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT
177

PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE COLLECTION

Sam Francis
UNTITLED
Estimate
600,000800,000
LOT SOLD. 674,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Day Auction

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New York

Sam Francis
1923 - 1994
UNTITLED
Executed in 1986, this work is registered with the Sam Francis Estate as archive number SFP86-217
oil on canvas
110 by 146 in. 279.4 by 370.8 cm.
Executed in 1986.
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This work is included in the Sam Francis: Catalogue Raisonné of Canvas and Panel Paintings, 1946–1994, with the number SFF.1385 edited by Debra Burchett-Lere and published by the University of California Press 2011, and alternatively registered with the Sam Francis Foundation under archive number SFP86-217.

Provenance

The Estate of Jean Rouge, Scottsdale (acquired directly from the artist)
Private Collection
Sotheby's, New York, May 16, 2007, lot 294
Acquired by the present owner from the above sale

Exhibited

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)

Catalogue Note

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.

Contemporary Art Day Auction

|
New York