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Sam Francis


Samuel Lewis Francis (June 25, 1923, San Mateo, California – November 4, 1994, Santa Monica, California) was an American painter and printmaker. He was born in San Mateo, California[1], and studied botany, medicine and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. Francis was initially influenced by the work of abstract expressionists such as Mark Rothko, Arshile Gorky and Clyfford Still. He spent the 1950s in Paris, having his first exhibition there in 1952. While there he became associated with Tachisme. Tachisme was a reaction to cubism and is characterized by spontaneous brushwork, drips and blobs of paint straight from the tube, and sometimes scribbling reminiscent of calligraphy. Francis spent his time in Paris executing entirely monochromatic works, but his mature pieces are generally large oil paintings with splashed or splattered areas of bright contrasting colour. Areas of white canvas are often left to show through, and in later works, paint is sometimes confined to the edges of the canvas. Francis returned to California during the 1960’s and continued painting in Los Angeles. During the final three decades of his career, his style of large scale bright Abstract expressionism was also closely associated with Color field painting. During the last year of his life, suffering from cancer and unable to paint with his right hand after a fall, in a final burst of energy he used his left hand to complete a dazzling series of about 150 small paintings before he died.


  • Dimensions

    H 30 in. x W 20 in.

    H 76.2 cm x W 50.8 cm

  • Gallery location
    Santa Fe, NM
  • Reference number

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