Sam Francis Towards Disappearance, II Paris 1957-58

  • Not on view

Towards Disappearance, II is a cloud of blues, yellows, and reds, and of red's variants in oranges and pinks. In earlier works, Francis had used a structure of interlocking cells or globules, close in size and shape; traces of this structure remain, but more ragged formations and drips suggest a less orderly energy. Restraining clusters of black collect in the upper part of the canvas, but their weight only heightens the force of the exuberant primaries, which seem to loft them by bubbling up from below. After the mid–1950s, Francis increasingly enjoyed creating contrast through areas of white. Pressing in from the sides, and glimmering in the crevices among the patches of pigment, the white in Towards Disappearance, II only makes the colors brighter.

Studying painting in California in the late 1940s, Francis had seen exhibitions of Abstract Expressionism, and had absorbed the ideas of the New York School. His next stop, though, was not New York but Paris, where he lived through much of the 1950s; he admired Pierre Bonnard and Henri Matisse, and was particularly influenced by the iridescent atmospheres of Claude Monet's Water Lilies series. In consequence, Francis is often seen as inheriting the potent love of color in French art. As he himself said, "Color is the real substance for me, the real underlying thing which drawing and line are not."

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York:The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 224.
Oil on canvas
9' 1/2" x 10' 5 7/8" (275.6 x 319.7 cm)
Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Fund
Object number
© 2024 Sam Francis Foundation, California / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Painting and Sculpture

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