Sam Francis b. 1923, San Mateo, California; d. 1994, Santa Monica, California
Oil on canvas
79 3/4 x 53 5/16 inches (202.6 x 135.4 cm)
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
2015 Sam Francis Foundation, California / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
In 1950, Sam Francis moved to Paris, where he would remain until 1961, and began his association with Art Informel practitioners. Shining Back (1958) was painted after the artist’s extensive travels to Europe as well as a 1957 trip to New York, Mexico, and Japan. Francis’s transition toward a more free and gestural mode of painting is apparent in the drips and splatters of paint animating the surface, and reflects his new reverence for traditional Japanese haboku, or flung-ink painting. With its two cascades of vibrant bursts of color clustered on the edges of the canvas, separated by a white and open center, Shining Back reconciles Francis’s painterly gesture with the notion of the void, derived from East Asian thought.