Sam Francis


Sam Francis (1923-1994, California) was a painter and printmaker known for his bright, colorful compositions evocative of the Abstract Expressionist and Color Field movements. Influenced by both French impressionism and East Asian art, Francis was exposed to a variety of styles, techniques, and cultures through his travels and studies. Ultimately, these adventures informed the development of his own style: one that embraced his gestural hand and the energy of intense color.

Francis graduated with a BFA from the University of California, Berkeley in 1950, and then moved to Paris. While abroad, he worked closely with the Tachisme movement and was named “the hottest American painter in Paris these days” by TIME Magazine. Throughout his career, Francis maintained studios in Bern, Paris, Tokyo, Mexico City, New York and California.  The artist was a founding trustee of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and his paintings can be found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), the Kunstmuseum Basel and the Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), among many other international collections.


Related Works

  • For more wild abstract compositions that utilize drips and washes, check out Abstract Expressionist pioneer Helen Frankenthaler. She invented a painting technique that employed acrylic paints to create luminous veils of color. View her work.
  • Arturo Herrera and Sam Gilliam also conduct elaborate orchestras of form and color in their work, although neither share Francis's propensity for negative space.