Biography of Sam Francis
Radiating a sense of barely contained energy, vivacity and joy, Sam Francis’ distinctive work uses bold primary colors and jewel-like tones, abstract forms splattered, dripped, and drizzled across the surface of the canvas. The dynamic confident style of Sam Francis has often been likened to that of Jackson Pollock, yet the visual language of this great artist is far more complex than that.
Sam Francis absorbed influences from the many places he lived and worked throughout his extraordinary life, blending American Abstract Expressionism with European Art Informel and Eastern art in his celebrated paintings and prints. In particular, he spent a lot of time in Tokyo and produced work according to the principles of Zen Buddhism, emphasizing the void in his pieces. The center became decentralized, the paint pushed to the edges of the canvas or plate whilst the middle remains pristinely white, giving the works a conceptual openness.
Always receptive to new influences and ideas, Sam Francis also used Jungian psychoanalysis and dream interpretation in his art practice or, grasped by the concept of matrices, started to produce enormous color grid works. An equally prodigious printmaker, Sam Francis owned the Litho Shop in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, where he created an incredible variety of lithographs, monotypes, and etchings throughout his career. He also founded The Lapis Press in his later years which aimed to publish texts with a strong visual element to them.
Born in 1923, Sam Francis has exhibited widely across the States, Europe, and Asia due to his extensive travels. Sam Francis’ pioneering work graces the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Sam Francis passed away in 1994, having produced an astonishing 150 small paintings in his final year—demonstrating once again the creative drive of this modern master.