This work is registered with the Sam Francis Foundation as archive number SF54-079.
With its radiant, searing cells of intense red gleaming on the surface, Sam Francis' Untitled perfectly encapsulates the artist's love of, and instinctive sense of judgement with, color. This is a celebration of red, a celebration of paint, a celebration of art and vision. Even the appearance of the blank areas of sheet between the colored cells accentuates the vibrancy of these colors. The dominant red appears like liquid fire, burning across the sheet with an exuberant life of its own. This is Francis' personal invitation into an intense world of color, heightened both through the peeks of the blank sheet and through the judicious juxtaposition of the colors themselves.
Francis' interest in color and its contrasts was influenced by a series of varied artists: on the one hand, he was intrigued early on by Clyfford Still's works, on the other by those of Matisse and by Monet's monumental Nymphéas in the Orangerie in Paris while he was studying under Fernand Léger. With the Monet paintings in particular, the absorption of the viewer into an entire realm of color and sensation was a particular revelation for Francis and would inform the creation of some of his greatest works, not least Big Red in New York's Museum of Modern Art, to which Untitled bears striking similarities. In Untitled, the radiance of the paper sheet shining through the paint adds an electric intensity to this work, a warm glow that heightens the contrast between the yellow, black and red areas, lending them a far greater vitality than oil on canvas.