biography from the archives of AskART.com and ARTBROKERING.COM
A California Abstract Expressionist painter much influenced by Clyfford Styll and Mark Rothko, he became one of America's big-name artists in the second half of the 20th century. His work was light and airy and increasingly decorative, and his influence on Bay Area artists interested in abstraction was not remarkable. He was born in San Mateo, California, and attended the University of California at Berkeley from 1941 to 1943 and studied psychology and pre-med and then went into the Army Air Corps where he was in an air crash that led to spinal tuberculosis. In 1949 and 1950, he earned his B.A. and M.A. Degrees and also, as a patient at Letterman Hospital, studied privately with David Park. For a period he was part of the Bay Area Abstract group that included Styll, Park, and Richard Diebenkorn, and then in 1950, he left San Francisco to live in the Orient and Paris, where he was much influenced by the French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists use of color. By the 1950s, Francis' Abstract Expressionist style of painting was receiving tremendous international attention. His vast canvases of vivid blots of color, overlapping splatters and empty centers were travelling to galleries and museums in Paris, Japan and throughout the United States. In the 1960's Francis discovered the medium of printmaking and over the next thirty years produced some of the most beautiful and technically challenging prints ever seen.
In 1962, he settled in Santa Monica. His talent and popularity was exemplified by the skill in which he utilized and continually reinvented the print medium. His works are held in some of the most prestigious museums and collections here and abroad. Sam Francis passed away in 1994.
By turns, Sam Francis can be spontaneous and disciplined, baroque and reductive. His colors have a passion that doesn't come in paint tubes, but is always apparent in his work. He is concerned with the physical properties of paint itself, and he gives a different attention to each medium--acrylic, gouache, watercolor, oil or lithography. Francis is an extremely authoritative painter. His art has been a continuous dialogue with his ideas; with his own perpetual need to refine, reassess and rediscover his inner resources. He is a spontaneous painter, a lyrical painter. He is without rules. Gerald Nordland, Chicago, 1993
Sam Francis links
Sam Francis Estate