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Blue Balls IV, c.1960
40" x 47"
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Blue Balls IV, c.1960-Sam Francis-Serigraph

Blue Balls IV, c.1960By Sam Francis

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About This Piece
The Art
Like translucent organisms viewed under a microscope, the droplets and ellipses in Sam Francis’ “Blue Balls IV” quiver and pulse with their own life force. One of a 14-part series Francis (1923 – 1994) produced between 1960 and 1964, this piece adroitly bridged Abstract Expressionism with Pop Art, Minimalism and Color Field painting. Complex and daring, the work’s shimmering, gelatinous shapes blossom from Tachisme, a technique in which free-flowing paint creates a spontaneous design. Bordering a broad expanse of white space, the balls display understatement, intensity and the talent of a master at the zenith of his career. This piece is on view at the esteemed Smithsonian American Art Museum.

This serigraph is an artisan print with a stunning paint-like vibrancy and viscosity. Also known as screen printing or silk screening, serigraphy is a printing process by which inks are forced through a mesh screen and applied to the surface of the print. The result is a brilliantly hued work of art that retains its beauty for a lifetime.
The Artist
Sam Francis’ amorphous forms fluidly expand, vibrate, separate and reunite like torrents of bubbles. Originally from California, Francis (1923 – 1994) studied botany, psychology and medicine before he began painting while hospitalized for a lengthy illness. Using bright oils and sheer watercolors, Francis painted cell-like clusters of asymmetrical forms. He adopted the French Tachisme style, which allows free-flowing paint to create a spontaneous design. Francis was also inspired by the Japanese technique of incorporating large white expanses into artwork. With work displayed in respected museums such as New York’s Guggenheim and Museum of Modern Art, Francis is considered one of the United States’ preeminent contemporary masters.
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