SAM FRANCIS "BLUE MATRIX" LITHO, 1978
A preeminent figure in 20th century abstraction, Sam Francis (1923-1994) is renowned for his dynamic and colorful works. Printmaking was an essential part of his practice. Similar to Robert Motherwell, Francis became so transfixed by the potential of the medium, he established his own print studio...but only after collaborating with the best American printing studios.
After his military service in WWII, Francis returned to California and received a Masters of Arts from Cal Berkeley in 1950. Taking advantage of the G.I. bill, Francis moved to Paris to further his education and devote himself to art making. This was a fortuitous move, as by 1956 Time Magazine called him “The hottest American painter in Paris".
Francis’ aesthetic was shaped by access to Paris' world-renowned collections of art including French impressionists, as well as his contemporaries working in France including Jean-Peal Riopelle, and other ex-pats such as Al Held and Joan Mitchell. This diverse exposure continued as Francis travelled and held studios in continental Europe, Japan, Mexico, and the US during a forty-year period.
Francis is often considered as the leading member from the second generation of abstract expressionist artists. His work is easily recognizable for its vibrant saturated colors, its gestural arrangements and frequent open or untouched spaces.
Francis was featured in Clement Greenberg’s milestone exhibition, “Post Painterly Abstraction” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1964, alongside American artists including Jackson Pollock, Frank Stella, and Morris Louis.
Like many of his contemporaries, the artist, experimented extensively with printmaking, however Francis was an early adopter within abstract expressionist circles. Francis has an important relationship with the leading print studios of the day, notably Gemini and Tamarind, both in Los Angeles.
"Untitled (Blue Matrix)" from 1978 is a fantastic example of Francis' detailed printmaking and studio practice. Carefully controlled gestural drips and slashes of primary color paint showcase Francis' signature joyful expressionist style. In this work, a tightly-formed grid of blue covers the surface while brighter colors play over, under, and all around the precise lines. It's an excellent study in contrast between geometric abstraction and abstract expressionism, or between freedom and control.
Although this was a notably small edition, it can be found in several museum permanent collections including LACMA, the MoMA (NYC) and the Amnon Carter Museum of American Art (Fort Worth, Texas) and the Norton Simon Museum (California)
Questions about this piece? Contact us or call +1.416.704.1720
Signed and numbered by the artist
From an edition of 50
38.5”H 28"W (work)
Very good condition
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