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Collection > Sam Francis >

Blue Balls VIII

1961-1962

  • Medium

    Oil on canvas

  • Dimensions

    72 x 96 1/4 x 1 1/2 in. (182.88 x 244.48 x 3.81 cm)

  • Accession number

    99.24

  • Object label

    The majority of the activity in Sam Francis’s Blue Balls VIII occurs near the right and left edges, whereas the bulk of the composition boldly exposes the painting’s white surface. Irregular, organic forms, largely in Francis’s signature blue, float, bead, and bubble within the expanse of undefined white space. The flatness of the areas of intense blue and of the drips and sprays that dot the surface contrasts with the dimensionality of the subtly shaded spherical blobs. The scale of the image seems to oscillate between macroscopic and microscopic, at once suggesting orbiting planets and single-celled organisms. The painting’s title irreverently refers to events in Francis’s life while he was making the Blue Balls series: while convalescing from a bout of renal tuberculosis, he suffered from kidney problems and testicular swelling.