Violet, Yellow and White, 1958
Sam Francis (1923-1994)Violet, Yellow and Whitesigned with initials 'SF'
oil on canvas
146.1 x 96.5 cm.
Christie's New York: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 [Lot 00018]
Post-War & Contemporary Evening Sale
Estimate 2,500,000 - 3,500,000 USD
Sold For 4,002,500 USD
Catalogue Raisonné of Canvas and Panel Paintings, 1946–1994
Edited by Debra Burchett-Lere with featured essay by William C. Agee
This innovative and long-awaited catalogue raisonné brings together, for the first time, all the known paintings on canvas and panel of California-born abstract expressionist Sam Francis (1923–1994) and offers a comprehensive chronicle of his artistic journey. One of the twentieth century’s leading interpreters of light and color, Francis maintained studios not only in New York and Los Angeles, but also in Paris, Bern, and Tokyo, making his reach truly international.
Elegantly boxed, the Sam Francis catalogue raisonné includes a richly illustrated book with informative texts and two DVDs with authoritative entries for the canvas and panel paintings in an easily browsable, groundbreaking format. It offers the ultimate reference on this artist and a vital research tool.
Color images and documentation for all 1,850-plus paintings on canvas and panel by Francis (hundreds reproduced for the first time) on two DVDs
A lavish book with an extended essay by Francis scholar William C. Agee and a biographical timeline by catalogue raisonné editor Debra Burchett-Lere
Rare footage of Francis at work, writings by the artist, and descriptions of his studios and techniques
Access to electronic updates as they become available
Easily searchable information in a groundbreaking, twentieth-first-century format
Debra Burchett-Lere is Director and Curator of the Sam Francis Foundation. William Agee, Evelyn Kranes Kossak Professor of Art History at Hunter College, City University of New York, is coauthor of Coming of Age: American Art, 1850s to 1950s, author of Sam Francis: Paintings 1947-1990, and contributor to many books, including Patrick Henry Bruce, American Modernist: A Catalogue Raisonné.
Sam Francis (1923 - 1994) occupies a prominent position in post-war American
painting. Although associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement and Clement
Greenberg's Post-Painterly Abstraction, unlike many American painters of he
time he had direct and prolonged exposure to French painting and to Japanese
art which had an individual impact on his work.
On leaving the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1944 owing to illness Francis took up
painting as a hobby. He decided to make this a serious undertaking studying
under David Park in 1947 and completed his BA and MA at the University of California.
He was greatly influenced by Abstract Expressionism particularly the works of
Clyfford Still and Jackson Pollock. In his use of space on the canvas to allow
free circulation of strong colour and the sensitivity to light Francis developed
his own style by the time his studies had ended.
Francis moved to Paris in 1950 where he met Jean-Paul Riopelle who was to remain
an important influence, and study of Monet's Waterlilies had a profound impact
on his work. From a very muted palette of greys and whites he returned to the
qualities of light and colour producing such works as Big Red 1953. He continues
to develop the use of white space and increased the dimensions of his paintings
for greater emphasis. During his period in Europe he executed a number of monumental
Francis returned to California in 1962 and was then influenced by the West Coast
School's preoccupation with mysticism and Eastern philosophy. Blue had become
a more dominant feature of his work since 1959 inspired by personal suffering
and the great joy of becoming a father for the first time in 1961. This led
to combinations of hard colour and more disciplined structures with centrally
placed rectangles during the 1970s. Eventually these more rigid structures gave
way to looser configurations sometimes of snake-like forms with web-like patterns.
Blue, sometimes brilliant, remained an important part of many later works.