Sam FRANCIS (1923 - 1994)
Born on 25 June 1923 in San Mateo (California) and died on 4 November 1994 in Santa Monica.
Samuel Lewis Francis was an American painter.
He developed a new aesthetic of colour and a new conception of the canvas, thus joining the various movements of his time initiated and developed by American artists such as Rothko, Pollock, de Kooning and Kline.
Although often associated with the movements of abstract expressionism, tachism, action painting and colorfield painting, he is not limited to any of them.
He studied medicine and psychology at Berkeley.
In 1943 he joined the army as an airman, but in 1944 his plane crashed in the middle of the desert.
Wounded, he was hospitalised for two years and it was then that he began to paint. "My painting came from the illness. I left the hospital through my painting. I was suffering in my body [...] and it was because I was able to paint that I was able to heal myself."
After leaving the hospital, Sam Francis began studying art at Berkeley with illustrious teachers such as Marc Rothko, and in 1946 he encountered abstract art by taking classes with Clyfford Still.
He left for Paris around 1948-1949 where he met American artists, who today are known as action painters. He borrowed from them and mixed various techniques such as dripping and all-over. He was even described as a tachist, a name that refers to the spontaneously arising random spots. It was Paris that first gave Sam Francis recognition and notoriety. In 1952, the Nina Dausset Gallery organised his first exhibition.
For him, the white canvas merges with the sky, the place of infinity in painting. He was interested in "the space that stretches between things". Like blobs, all elements allowing for interpretation have been eliminated, leaving only depth: "Depth is all.
By removing the figures, Sam Francis removes the finite to keep only the infinite, his works are then only pieces of infinity, which continues far beyond the canvas.
Influenced by colour-field painting, Sam Francis worked on white backgrounds, on which he applied patches of shaded colour that flowed, enclosed or freed the blank space.
His works are held in numerous museums, including New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Zurich and the Tate Gallery in London.
Sam Francis died in Santa Monica (USA) in 1994.
91 x 183 cm
Acrylic on paper