Lot 887
  • 887

Sam Francis

800,000 - 1,200,000 HKD
1,062,500 HKD
bidding is closed


  • Sam Francis
  • Untitled
  • acrylic on canvas, in 4 parts
  • each: 27.3 by 16.2 cm; 10⅝ by 6⅜ in.
    overall: 27.3 by 66 cm; 10⅝ by 26 in.

each signed and dated 88 on the stretcher
Executed in 1988 in Venice, California.
This work is identified with the archival identification number of SFF.1479.1482 in consideration for the forthcoming addendum to the Sam Francis: Catalogue Raisonné of Canvas and Panel Paintings, to be published by the Sam Francis Foundation. This information is subject to change as scholarship continues by the Sam Francis Foundation. This work is alternatively registered with the Sam Francis Foundation under archive number SFP88-51 (A-D).


Elaine Horwitch Gallery, Los Angeles
Private Collection (acquired from the above in 1989)
Christie's, London, 20 May 1998, lot 126
Private Collection, New York


Debra Burchett-Lere, Sam Francis, Catalogue Raisonné of Canvas and Panel Paintings, 1946-1994, University of California Press, 2011, cat. no. SFF.1479.1482, illustrated in colour on DVD I.

Catalogue Note

Executed in 1988, the current work was painted during the mature heights of Sam Francis’ fifty-year career. Composed of four canvases, each a chromatic feast in its own right, the quadriptych presents to the viewer the vibrant palette that the artist embraced in his later career, leaving behind the melancholic tones of his earlier works. While the structural trellises that dominated Francis’ paintings in the 1970s are still visible in the current work, they are manifested in asymmetrical swaths of aqueous colours, interlaced with gestural flicks of pigment reminiscence to those done by the Abstract Expressionist master Jackson Pollock. Having lived and worked in a temple in Tokyo in 1957 where Francis studied haboku (traditional Japanese flung-ink painting), the artist had undoubtedly employed the acquired technique in this dynamic work. Unlike Francis’ paintings in the 1960s, during which colours were often pushed to the edges of the painterly surface framing an austere space of whiteness, the current painting witnesses the reconquering of the central domain by colours in a surplus of mesmerising matter. The trickling and pulsating bands and drips of paint typify the series of untitled works that Francis exuberantly produced throughout the late 1980s, creating a kaleidoscopic symphony that delights the gaze. It compels the eye, as Jean-François Lyotard described, to become the hand of the ‘visual god’ Sam Francis, and trace the quasi-perfect rhythm from the chromatic and alchemic abyss (Sam Francis, Lesson of Darkness, Leuven University Press, 2010, pp.30-31).