Sam Francis MMoCA Collects

American, 1923–1994

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Sam Francis in his Venice, California studio, 1989. Photograph by Nico Delaive. Courtesy The Samuel L. Francis Foundation (AKA Sam Francis Foundation), CA 2005.
Sam Francis, Untitled Mandala, acrylic, 1975

Sam Francis's art was associated during the 1950s with Abstract Expressionism and with its French variant, Art informel. In keeping with the pictorial values of these important twentieth-century art movements, it featured spontaneous brushwork and elements of chance to create highly personal records of the artist's creativity. His compositions, however, were so open and his use of color shapes so striking that critics included him as a significant representative of Color Field painting, which characterized an important direction in formalist abstraction of the 1960s. Francis studied in Paris after World War II and returned to the United States in 1961, taking up permanent residence on the West Coast in Los Angeles. Known primarily for his paintings, he was also an important printmaker who made major contributions to the American print renaissance of the 1960s.

Related Topics

Suggested Readings

Agee, William C. Sam Francis, Paintings 1947-1990. Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art, 1999.

Lembark, Connie W. The Prints of Sam Francis: A Catalogue Raisonné 1960-1990. New York (now Manchester, Vermont): Hudson Hills Press, 1992.

Teaching Pages

Sam Francis, Untitled Mandala, 1975, acrylic, 36 1/2 x 37 inches. Collection of Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frederic F. Renfert. 75.12.2 © 2005 Samuel L. Francis Foundation, California/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Sam Francis in his Venice, California studio, 1989. Photograph by Nico Delaive. Courtesy The Samuel L. Francis Foundation (AKA Sam Francis Foundation), CA 2005.