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Medium: Oil »
Year(s): 1946 »
SFF.9 (Francis Archive SFP45-2)
After de Chirico
Oil on canvas (linen)
93.98 x 69.22 cm (37 x 27 1/4 in.)
Inscriptions: Signed on lower-center canvas recto in black paint: Sam [Inscription is in black shadow area, so it is difficult to discern complete signature.] Signed on verso with initials: S.F.
Additional notations: Stamped on canvas verso with the Sam Francis Estate logo and facsimile signature stamps SFF.9 is on the original stretcher
Creation location: San Francisco
Pasadena Museum of California Art, Pasadena, California, Sam Francis: Five Decades of Abstract Expressionism from California Collections, August 11, 2013–January 5, 2014 (exhibition catalogue: Burchett-Lere and Selz 2013–2014), no. 7, ill. in color, p. 50 [Sacramento]; not exhibited [Pasadena]. Traveled to: Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, Calif, January 26–April 20, 2014.
Literature References
Burchett-Lere, Debra, ed. Sam Francis: Catalogue Raisonné of Canvas and Panel Paintings, 1946–1994. Berkeley, California: University of California Press and Sam Francis Foundation, 2011, cat. no. 9, ill. in color on DVD I.

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.

Archival Material
1946 (circa) Fort Miley hospital
Sam Francis on balcony at Fort Miley hospital, San Francisco
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2014 Crocker Art Museum
Photo © Jesse Bravo, Sacramento, California
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Record last updated March 10, 2019. Please note that the information on this and all pages is periodically reviewed and subject to change.
Current catalogue view includes unique works on paper and canvas and panel paintings of the artist’s oeuvre from the years 1945–1949.

Citation: Burchett-Lere, Debra, ed. "After de Chirico, 1946 (SFF.9)." Sam Francis: Online Catalogue Raisonné Project. (accessed on April 23, 2019).