Living Contemporary

Living Contemporary

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 42. Untitled Sculpture    .

Sam Francis

Untitled Sculpture

Lot Closed

June 10, 10:41 AM GMT


50,000 - 70,000 EUR

Lot Details


Sam Francis

1923 - 1994

Untitled Sculpture

signed, dated 1979-2003 and numbered 8/8


190 by 140 by 50 cm., 74¾ by 55⅛ by 19¾ in.

Conceived in 1979 and cast in 2003, this work is number 8 from a limited edition of 8 sculptures published posthumously by Gallery Delaive, Amsterdam with the Estate of Sam Francis, California.

Gallery Delaive, Amsterdam

Private Collection, Germany

Galerie Iris Wazzau, Davos

Acquired from the above by the present owner

Burchett-Lere, Debra, ed. "Untitled Sculpture, ARTIST DATE DESIGNATION: 1979/2003 (0000 / Francis Archive SFSC-2)." Sam Francis: Online Catalogue Raisonné Project (accessed on May 21, 2022).

Untitled is a superb and rare example of Sam Francis’ investigation into the possibilities of three-dimensional art. Known primarily for his boldly coloured and gestural paintings, Francis made his first foray into sculpture in the mid-1960s; this coincided with his decision to spend an increasing amount of time in Japan, a country with which he felt a natural affinity. For this initial experimentation with three-dimensional form Francis created a group of ceramic wall pieces, followed by four free-standing ceramic sculptures the next year. Francis had first visited Tokyo in 1957, and grew increasingly fascinated by the culture and philosophy of the country over the following years. The impact of these extended stays in the East can be seen in the fluid contours and curves of Untitled, which recalls the elegant forms of Japanese calligraphy with its flowing and graceful lines.

Susan Einstein has discussed the significance of the artist’s inclination towards Eastern philosophy: ‘Francis later became interested in Eastern thought and in the spirit of Zen. The writer Alan Watts tells us that “Zen artists understand better than any others the value of empty spaces, and in a certain sense what they left out was more important than what they put in.” Francis, especially in his later work, has approached a unification of man and the elements which is essential if one is to achieve Satori’ (S. Einstein, in Peter Selz (ed.), Sam Francis, New York, 1975, p. 128). The concept of Satori – considered one of the first steps on the path to becoming Buddhist – refers to the idea of attaining enlightenment and self-understanding. Within Untitled, the play of the empty fields of space against the contrasting solidity of the steel structure arguably hints at this mental process, reinforcing the importance of intangible, empty space as a powerful vehicle for artistic expression.

Another example of Untitled resides within the gardens of the Huntington Museum in Pasadena.