Sam Francis

Sam Francis

Biography

An American painter and printmaker, Sam Francis is celebrated for his buoyantly colorful, large-scale abstract works. Combining Abstract Expressionism, Color Field painting, Impressionism, Eastern philosophy and art and his own Bay Area roots, he developed a distinct style of painterly abstraction.

The work of Sam Francis was guided by his expansive and synergistic exploration of the nature of creativity and what stimulates it. Believing that the painting is about the beauty of space and the power of containment, he was more concerned with the formal arrangement of the picture plane in terms of space, color and light than the expressivity of an individual artist. Evolving in the 1950s, his most iconic works were characterized by a large area of luminous whiteness surrounded by saturated splashes of color.

Over the course of his prolific career, he created thousands of paintings as well as works on paper, prints and monotypes which are now housed in major museum collections and institutions around the world. He was a founding trustee of Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art. In 1991, he was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member and became a full Academician in 1994.

With a gestural approach, Sam Francis captured the brilliance, energy, and intensity of color at different moments of time and periods of his life. While embodying a wide range of influences and personal interests, his work reflects his profound range of emotions and personal unrest.

Sam Francis was born in San Mateo, California in 1923. Throughout his career, he traveled and studied extensively, having studios in Bern, Paris, Tokyo, Mexico City, New York, and Northern and Southern California and exposing himself to many styles, techniques and cultural influences. He died in 1994 in Santa Monica and was buried in Olema, in Marin County, California.

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