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SAM FRANCIS (1924-1994)
SAM FRANCIS (1924-1994)
SAM FRANCIS (1924-1994)
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On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more Property from an Important Private Collection
SAM FRANCIS (1924-1994)

Ebis Link

SAM FRANCIS (1924-1994)
Ebis Link
signed 'Sam Francis' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
45 x 34 in. (117 x 87 cm.)
Painted in 1963-1964.
Kornfeld and Klipstein, Bern
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1967
K. Shoten, ed., Sekai Bijutsu Zenshu, Tokyo, 1967, p. 178, no. 26 (illustrated).
M. Waldberg, Sam Francis: Metaphysics of the Void, Toronto, 1987, pp. 46-47 (illustrated).
D. Burchett-Lere, ed., Sam Francis: Catalogue Raisonné of Canvas and Panel Paintings, 1946–1994, DVD I, Berkeley, 2011, no. SFF.390 (illustrated).
Bern, Kornfeld and Klipstein, Sam Francis: Werke 1962-1966, 1966, p. 21, no. 15 (illustrated).
Kunsthalle Basel, Sam Francis, April-June 1968, n.p., no. 70.
Special notice

On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.

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Lot Essay

“Painting transforms things and in so doing opens them up. It opens up things to sight just as much as it opens up sight to things.”
–(M. Waldberg, Sam Francis: Metaphysics of the Void, Toronto, 1987, p. 47)

Explosions of swirling color part way for pure white ground in Sam Francis’s powerful and thought-provoking Ebis Link, painted during a two-year span in the early 1960s. Having just relocated to his now-iconic Santa Monica studio, Francis fused the essence of California coastal light with his definitively Fauvist sense of seeing to capture intangible ethereality in undeniably physical terms. Situated at the advent of his Edge series, biomorphic orbs of pigment hover along the perimeter of the canvas in Ebis Link, embodying scarlet’s inherent ferocity, the gem-like sophistication of emerald, the buttery lightness of sunshine yellow and royal blue’s enveloping calm. Reminiscent of his Blue Balls series explored a few years prior, drips of these tantalizing hues escape the confines of their form to wreak gleeful havoc across the negative space, which is fraught with its own breath-holding tension and staggering depth. Almost as if they are contesting amongst themselves, each stroke of paint asserts itself atop or beneath its surrounding marks, implying Jackson Pollock’s version of Abstract Expressionism, while retaining that specific sense of movement unique to Francis’s practice.
For all his characteristic dynamism, Francis was mainly concerned about evoking a meditative state with broad brush swaths swaying towards and away from one another. Standing before Ebis Link, the mind’s eye traverses colorful terrain on either side before boldly encountering no-man’s land in the center. Here is where the artist invites the viewer to co-create – to splash onto the canvas whatever realization or confounding thought has arrived to him or her while looking and join the fray of ideas already collecting there. The present work is thus an exercise in introspection as much as it is a palette study, a veritable “rak[ing] the canvas clean to see it anew” (C. Burnett, “Elegance and Mischief: The Paintings of Sam Francis”, in Sam Francis: 1923-1994, exh. cat., London, 2003, n.p.). Refreshing his vision in this way forged a new path forward for Francis, leading him into the gridded yet rhythmic paintings of the 1970s and beyond. Residing in the same private collection since 1967, the present lot immortalizes the artist’s personal reinvention while simultaneously clearing the aisle to make way for the viewer to also encounter his or her own sense of the infinite.

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