Sam Francis: Power & Containment

Sam Francis Artwork- Zane Bennett Contemporary Art- Santa Fe New Mexico

“Painting is about the beauty of space and the power of containment,” said Sam Francis (1923-1994). The abstract expressionist master is best known for paintings that show multicolored abstract splatters between luminous fields of white. “Containment” isn’t the first word you might use to describe these exuberant artworks that are devoid of hard edges. However, much like Jackson Pollock, Francis was actually exercising precise control in the creation of his work. Though Francis’s bright pigments are focal points, he knew that negative space was his most important compositional tool. These new prints in the Zane Bennett Contemporary collection are dazzling examples of his signature aesthetic.

Image: Sam Francis.

Sam Francis- Chinese Wall CTP- Lithograph- Zane Bennett Contemporary Art- Santa Fe New Mexico

Sam Francis
Chinese Wall (CTP), 1969,
lithograph, 30.12 x 22.5 in.

Sam Francis- Untitled SF 236- Lithograph- Zane Bennett Contemporary Art- Santa Fe New Mexico

Sam Francis
Untitled (SF 236)1978
lithograph, 38.25 x 28 in.

Sam Francis- Untitled SF 78- Lithograph- Zane Bennett Contemporary Art- Santa Fe New Mexico

Sam Francis
Untitled (SF 78)1964
lithograph, 15.5 x 22.75 in.

Sam Francis- Untitled SF 319- Lithograph- Zane Bennett Contemporary Art- Santa Fe New Mexico

Sam Francis
Untitled (SF 319)1964
lithograph, 15.5 x 22.75 in.

Sam Francis- Untitled AP- Aquatint and Drypoint- Zane Bennett Contemporary Art- Santa Fe New Mexico

Sam Francis
Untitled AP1982
aquatint and drypoint, 29.87 x 23.87 in.

Sam Francis- Pasadena Box- Lithograph- Zane Bennett Contemporary Art- Santa Fe New Mexico

Sam Francis,
III, from the Pasadena Box, Variant II, 1963,
lithograph, 15 x 11.25 in.

Click here to browse the complete Zane Bennett Contemporary Art collection.

Sam Francis in Winter.

Sam Francis- Artist Portrait- Photo by Meibao D. Nee.- Zane Bennett Contemporary Art

“Ideas hang around images like shadows,” said Sam Francis (1923-1994). “The space at the center of these paintings is reserved for you.”  The quote seems particularly apt when it comes to the abstract expressionist’s aquatint “The Five Continents in Wintertime.” Francis employs his idiosyncratic drips and splatters, but pulls back his typically vibrant palette to reflect the purple, blue and brown tones of bare branches set against winter skies. Between these cool winter “shadows,” a field of snowy white paper shows through.

Francis was born in San Mateo, California. He was initially influenced by the work of abstract expressionists such as Mark Rothko, Arshile Gorky and Clyfford Still. While living in Paris in the 1950’s, 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 color. Areas of white canvas are often left to show through, and in later works, paint is sometimes confined to the edges of the canvas. Scroll down to view “The Five Continents in Wintertime” and other works by Sam Francis.

Image: Meibao D. Nee.

Sam Francis- The Five Continents in Wintertime- Zane Bennett Contemporary Art- Santa Fe New Mexico

Sam Francis
The Five Continents in Wintertime
aquatint, 23.75in x 48.75in
1984

Sam Francis- Color Lithograph- Zane Bennett Contemporary Art- Santa Fe New Mexico

Sam Francis
Untitled
color lithograph, 30 x 20 in.
1968

Sam Francis
Untitled #5, from Pasadena Box
lithograph, 11 x 15 in.
1963

Click here to browse the complete Zane Bennett Contemporary collection.

Sam Francis.

“Painting is about the beauty of space and the power of containment,” said Sam Francis (1923-1994). The artist is best known for abstract, mural-sized canvases on which thin washes, drips and splatters of primary colors float within vast areas of white space—a format emphasized in his iconic series of “Edge Paintings.” The monumentality of his paintings places them within the tradition of Abstract Expressionist pictures, which fill the viewer’s field of vision with a direct experience of color and movement.

Francis’ 1970’s color lithograph Cut Throat is the newest addition to the Zane Bennett Contemporary collection. Look below to learn more, and click here to browse more work by Sam Francis in the Zane Bennett Contemporary collection.

Sam Francis
Cut Throat AP V
Color Lithograph
45.25 x 31.25 in