This work will be included in the forthcoming Sam Francis Catalogue raisonné edited by Debra Burchett-Lere and published by the University of California Press, Berkeley and is registered with the Sam Francis Foundation as archive number SF57-258.
Sam Francis' Untitled from 1957 is an energetic work from the artist's time in Paris in the 1950s--the vibrant colors and dynamic movement of the brushstrokes show clear influence of the brilliant light and atmosphere of Paris that differed so greatly from San Francisco. His gestural application of paint results in splatters and drips, which imbues the work with energy. The reliance on chance and spontaneity are related to the goals of Tachism, the French counterpart of Abstract Expressionism. However, unlike his earlier works where the forms are clustered together which results in a dense surface, his Untitled is much freer-the colors take on a sort of a translucent luminosity and creates a sense of depth and movement.
Francis comes from the tradition of the San Francisco Bay Area aesthetic, though rather than working with figurative subject matters like the forerunners of the group, he was more interested in space, composition and the possibilities of the medium. His early works have a restrained color palette, which let the inherent qualities of the medium dictate the direction of the work. Around the mid 1950s, he developed an interest in the possibilities of color, incorporating all the lessons he learned about composition and form in order to transform color into form, imbuing it with a volumetric quality. In Untitled, Francis begins to move away from tightly-knit patterns to a much more open construction, which he goes on to explore at the height of his career. This vivacious work visually captures his buoyant spirit, which he described when he said, "I like to fly, to soar, to float like a cloud, but I am tied down to place. No matter where I am...it's always the same. Painting is a way in and out" (Sam Francis quoted from P. Selz, Sam Francis, New York, 1982, p. 14).