The completion date for SFF.9 has previously been documented as 1945, but Francis was not painting on canvas at that time. The painting is believed to have been completed during the late summer of 1946.
This is one of the Surrealist-inspired works by Francis based on a painting by Italian artist Giorgio de Chirico. It represents a turning point for Francis as he realized that creating art had philosophical and emotional power. The Bikini Atoll atomic bomb tests and the Hiroshima atomic bombing of August 6, 1945 affected Francis as well as many other artists. He found that the effects of the bombing echoed in de Chirico's sensibility -- a haunting, disconnected, and frozen moment in time. Other paintings from this period that allude to the atomic bombings during World War II include SFF.4, SFF.5, SFF.6, SFF.7, and SFF.10, all from the 1946 period while he was hospitalized at Fort Miley Veterans Hospital.
In an interview with the author Yves Michaud (1988, 60). Francis commented on how his early works closely resembled his reaction to Hiroshima upon visiting the city years later: "You can see those shadows, the remains everywhere...The whole fauna and flora of the earth was transformed. You can see the shadows of the birds as they fly almost. In the air; it's almost a still in the air."
This painting is included in the forthcoming paint study publication by the Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles scheduled for February 2019 release. Authored by Debra Burchett-Lere and Aneta Zebala, the book (Sam Francis: The Artist's Materials) focuses on Francis's paint materials and methods over the decades.
For more on this period of Francis's early career please see William C. Agee's essay, "Sam Francis: A Painter's Dialogue with Color, Light, and Space," and Burchett-Lere's chronology, "Sam Francis: A Biographical Timeline," 2011 in Sam Francis: Catalogue Raisonné of Canvas and Panel Paintings, 1946–1994. Published by the Regents of the University of California/University of California Press (2011). Portions of this painting entry are reproduced with permission from this publication.
Citation: Burchett-Lere, Debra, ed. "After de Chirico, 1946 (SFF.9)." Sam Francis: Online Catalogue Raisonné Project. http://cr.samfrancisfoundation.org/catalogue/entry.php?id=1726 (accessed on February 21, 2019).