new-york

Sam Francis

André Emmerich Gallery

The new paintings by Sam Francis are wall substitutes, huge, practically untouched canvas fields edged in fresh and bled acrylic passages. The bigness of these pictures, and their facility too, has grown out of an ordered, rational development and respond to a clear set of predeterminants. It is the a priori character of the new paintings which make them seem hollow, works whose real commitment to difficulty is effected solely in terms of the actual, tangible immensity of the canvas itself. Very likely Francis is going to be accused of lifting pictorial ideas (notably from Olitski and Frankenthaler) and demoting them into mannerisms. Therefore, it is important to examine the charge and that chronological events be nicely drawn.

The arguments are: 1) The new works take their cue from Olitski’s sprayed canvases in which pictorial incident (greater body, denser impasto, clearer directional

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