Untitled (SF63-039)

Sam Francis

Untitled (SF63-039) , 1963

Works on paper
41.0 x 27.5 Inches
Acrylic on paper
Unique artwork
$110,000
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Sam Francis Estate Chalk & Vermilion Private Collection Chalk & Vermiion, 2019

About the artwork

Untitled (SF63-039) is a piece from Francis’ “Edge Paintings” series that he completed in the 1960s. These paintings are recognizable by the blue, red, green, and yellow paint at the outer edges of the canvas, the rest remaining bare with only the white gesso exposed. In this piece, splatters of paint mark the corners and edges of the canvas; there are spots where the paint seems to have been flung with a brush onto the surface. This work is a gripping example of the radical Edge Paintings Francis completed in his Santa Monica studio in the 1960s. Francis was a constant innovator as a member of the Abstract Expressionism movement, and this painting embodies his ability to push the boundaries of what the movement was and could be. Untitled (SF63-039) is an important and iconic work in Francis’ exploration of negative space and the edges of color and of a work of art.  When asked about the empty space in the Edge series, Francis responded, “The space at the center of these paintings is reserved for you.” This painting challenges the viewer to think critically about where a painting begins and ends. Does the action begin beyond the edge of the canvas and work its way out, or does it close in on the negative space at the center?

About the artist

Sam Francis

Sam Francis (1923-1994) was an American painter and printmaker who was part of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Francis received a BA and MA from UC Berkeley where he studied botany and psychology. He also served in the U.S. Army during WWII where he suffered a serious injury that left him bed-ridden. It was during his recovery that he turned to painting and drawing as a form of therapy and later pursued it as a career. Sam Francis’ practice was revolutionary in many ways, but perhaps one of his greatest contributions was the inclusion of references to non-Western religion, philosophy, science, and Asian art in his works.

 

Though born and raised in California, Francis gained attention abroad before his career really took off in the United States.  He maintained studios in Bern, New York, Los Angeles, Paris, and Tokyo. His exposure to other cultures deeply influenced his color palettes and use of space.  Francis is best known for his “open” paintings, in which vividly hued splashes and drips of color are punctuated by expanses of white. While his large-scale paintings are highly sought after, his prints are also highly regarded and mirror his signature painterly aesthetic of vibrant colors and abstraction. Francis became so enamored with printmaking that he even opened his own print studio, named The Litho Shop, Inc. In order to achieve the painterly effect in his prints, Francis would apply ink onto the lithographic limestone, often creating brushstrokes, drips, and splatters, just as he would with an oil or watercolor. Francis left the world with thousands of paintings as well as works on paper, prints and monotypes and his works can be found in over 130 public institutions throughout the world. He was also a founding trustee of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (LACMA).  


Francis’ creativity extended beyond the art world, as well. He was an early investor in research to find creative solutions to our dependence on non-renewable energy sources and cures for AIDs. Additionally, the Sam Francis Foundation actively donates to organizations and efforts that address racism and inequality through education and engagement of the cultural, social, and environmental challenges of the day.

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