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Sam FRANCIS

(1923 - 1994)


In the oeuvre of Sam Francis, Michel Waldberg sees an empty place “that his walls confirm” and a “space where the things over things”.

From the 1960s, Sam Francis did white paintings that are simply framed with colours, such as From My Angels (1969-1970). He dedicated his paintings to angels, invoking emptiness via lighting. Emptiness appears as a beam of light alongside which there was, as adumbration of the ultimate state of awareness or a call to a new interpretation of heaven, a dazzling space. In his youth, Sam Francis studied botany, medicine and psychology at Berkeley. During the war he was in the USAAF, but injured his backbone and had to be hospitalised. Then he started painting, appreciating the therapeutic effects of art. He did watercolours of sky and clouds, in which he saw a diffused light. After his recovery, he studied painting from Clyfford Still, whose influence is visible and fits in with Francis’ discovery of Impressionist painting. A scholarship enabled him to visit Paris in 1950, and he stayed there until 1961, meeting many French and American abstract artists, who were supported by the art critic Georges Duthuit, an expert in Byzantine and Coptic art. In France Sam Francis discovered post-Impressionist painting, after Monet, from which he took the sensitive and vibrant features to do with the rendering of light and the elimination of perspective in the traditional sense In this context, the European form of abstraction was started in his Talisman (1888) by Paul Sérusier, who proposed that light in the painting be re-examined, from the point of view of simplifying the outlines, explaining with the help of just one field of colour with subtle variations of the depth of objects and space. This is a process that interested Sam Francis, who developed it to his “white infinitude” during the late 1960s, sometimes with traces of spattering.

Sam Francis à la Fondation Maeght
Sam Francis à la Fondation Maeght, 1983

La Fondation Maeght conserve dans ses collections deux peintures de l'artiste.