Sam Francis, ‘Blue Balls’, 1962, Bernard Jacobson Gallery

From the series Blue Balls, (1960-63). This series preoccupied Francis for a number of years, and as William C. Agee pointed out, are rooted in his threatened physical body. Again, these works make autobiographical reference, as the blue of these works embody the sheer pain, the dysfunction of his kidney, and the discoloration and enlargement of his testicles that were the result of the renal tuberculosis diagnosed in 1961.
At the same time, the series is also about Francis’ exploration of the color blue. Blue evokes the sky and infinity, as it did for Giotto, Kandinsky and Yves Klein. The blue cell-like forms floating in an open, and often white space are in a state of motion and change. These forms are cellular and atom-like, organic and non-organic forms that suggest we inhabit a constant state of becoming. The cellular forms also refer back to Francis’ earlier training as a student of botany; much of his work refers to the botanist’s language of growth, flowering and decay.

Signature: Signed, dated and inscribed in cursive on centre verso: Sam Francis, Santa Barbara Toyko 1962; also inscribed '14' lower right verso

'Discursive Abstraction', 11 January - 25 February 2012 Bernard Jacobson Gallery, New York

Acquired directly from the artist

About Sam Francis

The painterly abstraction of Sam Francis is most often associated with the American Abstract Expressionist movement, but Francis also spent a great deal of time in Paris and became linked with the parallel movement of Art Informel in Europe. Francis’ most iconic works are characterized by saturated splashes of color that populate the edges of the canvas in order to emphasize the luminous white void in the center. This contrast between the vibrancy of Francis’ color palette and the austere white picture plane demonstrate the artist’s concern with relationships of space, color, and light, as opposed to the psychologically expressive tendencies of contemporaries such as Jackson Pollock.

American, 1923-1994, San Mateo, California, based in Paris and Santa Monica, California