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Sam Francis

Untitled

acrylic on canvas
1980
310 x 635 cm / 122 x 250 in.
with the no. SFP 80-46 on the overlap

Early on in his artistic career, Francis began to be interested in the possibilities of large formats. As early as 1950, before he left Berkeley and went to Paris, he painted 'Opposites' - now in the collection of the Idemitsu Museum of Arts in Tokyo - which, with its dimensions of 234 by 182 cm challenges the physical presence of the works of his teachers, Pollock und Rothko. During the 1950s Francis continued to pursue his interest in the density and openness in large paintings, the main works of his so-called "heroic period" are icons of post war art. The Chase Manhattan Bank mural of 1959 is the artist's largest work. with a size of 234 by 1158 cm, it afforded Francis the space to make his colours and shapes larger, more pronounced and clearly defined. Francis never was a dry formalist, he created abstract narratives in colour. In his pictures, as he intended, colour develops its own life, makes its own impression and conveys certain emotions. The composition of the present work shows Francis' use of certain compositional structures as a result of his Jungian studies in the 1970s. These include circular and square mandalas, spirals and crosses - all of which are considered symbols of unity, wholeness, and completeness. The colours are joyful and dynamic. Black blocks emanate from the centre, creating energetic diagonal lines across the canvas. These lines, like paths, might be symbols of the artist's artistic discoveries - and for self-discovery.

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