Sam Francis – A Centennial Exhibition

20.06.2023 – 27.09.2023

Sam Francis in front of the Chase Manhattan Bank Mural in the West 3rd Street studio
New York, 1959. Photo by Eliane Boardman.

The Sam Francis Foundation announces “A Century of Sam”
Los Angeles, CA — 2023 marks the centennial of Sam Francis (June 25, 1923 – November 4, 1994). We celebrate the 100th anniversary of Francis’s birthday and his continued creative legacy through exhibitions, educational events, special projects, articles, and archival explorations. We invite scholars, colleagues, artists, institutions, and historians to explore their relationship with Francis, his art, his creative legacy, and his inspiration.
One of the twentieth century’s most profound Abstract Expressionists, American artist Sam Francis is noted as one of the first post-World War II painters to develop an international reputation. Francis created thousands of paintings as well as works on January 18, 2023 paper, prints and monotypes, housed in major museum collections and institutions around the world. Regarded as one of the leading interpreters of color and light, his work holds references to New York abstract expressionism, color field painting, Chinese and Japanese art, French impressionism and his own Bay Area roots.
The foundation is thrilled the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) will open Sam Francis and Japan: Emptiness Overflowing in April 2023. This landmark exhibition reviews five decades of dialogue between Francis and artists, poets, composers, gallerists, and historians in Japan, such as Arata Isozaki, Atsuko Tanaka, Toshi Ichiyanagi and Shuzo Takiguchi. T
The Bakersfield Museum of Art will also host The Circle of Sam opening May 2023 exploring the relationships that began through the artist’s studio and continue through his creative legacy.
On Archive Connection (samfrancisfoundation.org) we will publish new articles highlighting Francis’s expansive connections. A full calendar of events will be available on our website.
We encourage others to participate in this celebration either by installing work from their collections, posting on social media platforms, or launching any other appropriate tributes. We are acknowledging the 100th year with a custom graphic and hashtag #ACenturyofSam. The foundation is pleased to share these items and imagery if you would like to participate in the celebrations. Please see the attached biography and sample text for your use.
“Still Infinity lies before my eyes
Two eyes have I
– one of Eternity
– one of Infinity”
–– Sam Francis, One Ocean One Cup
within Cobalt Blue #####

Condensed Biography: 2023 marks the 100th Anniversary of one of the twentieth century’s most profound Abstract Expressionists, American artist Sam Francis (1923-1994.) Noted as one of the first post-World War II painters to develop an international reputation, Francis created thousands of paintings as well as works on paper, prints and monotypes, housed in major museum collections and institutions around the world. Regarded as one of the leading interpreters of color and light, his work holds references to New York abstract expressionism, color field painting, Chinese and Japanese art, French impressionism and his own Bay Area roots.
After graduating from Cal Berkeley in 1950 with a degree in art, Francis moved to Paris, where he would go on to be named by Time Magazine as, “the hottest American painter in Paris these days.” A transformative period of his career, Francis immersed himself in a study of Monet’s Water Lilies and was influenced by his close friendships with the Matisse family and artists Al Held, Joan Mitchell, and Jean-Paul Riopelle.
For the next four decades he traveled and studied extensively, maintaining studios in Bern, Paris, Tokyo, Mexico City, New York and Northern and Southern California. Through his travels he was exposed to many styles, techniques and cultural influences, which informed the development of his own dialogue and style of painting. Francis possessed a lyrical and gestural hand, enabling him to capture and record the brilliance, energy and intensity of color at different moments of time and periods of his life. His paintings embody his love of literature, music and science, while reflecting his deep range of emotions and personal turmoil.
Not only are Francis’s paintings valued historically for their aesthetic vision, but his inquisitive mind and spirit have solidified Francis’s legacy as a contemporary renaissance man. His interest in the creative process was expansive and synergistic – art, technology, psychology, science, medicine, and protecting the environment. He was an early investor in research to find creative solutions to our dependence on non-renewable energy sources and cures for AIDs. In each of these realms, he explored the nature of creativity – what stimulates it, the importance of testing new ideas through experimentation as well as the roles of imagination, intuition and knowledge.
Hashtags: #ACenturyofSam #SamFrancis100 #SamFrancisFoundation

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