Sam Francis

Sam Francis (1923 - 1994) was born in California, USA. He originally read psychology and medicine before studying painting under Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still. He graduated from University of California, Berkeley in 1950, travelled to Paris and enrolled at Fernand Leger's private academy. Over the next few years he split his time between Europe, Japan, and the USA, settling back in California in 1962. During the 1960s he developed his own distinctive style of spontaneous and gestural 'dripping'.

Of all the abstract expressionists, Francis was the most prolific graphic artist and the most committed to the possibilities of printmaking. Between 1960 and 1990 he made over 300 lithographs, 200 screenprints and 125 etchings as well as a number of unique experimental and trial proofs. Experimentation was an integral part of his printmaking process. Throughout the full range of his graphic work, from the early lithographs up to the minimal 'edge' prints, it seems that Francis never considered any single image to be an end-point, but just one of a number of possibilities. In 1970 Francis's commitment to printmaking was underlined when he established his own printing workshop in Santa Monica, California, called the Litho Shop.

 Galerie Nina Dausset, Paris, gave Francis his first solo exhibition in 1952, and he has been the subject of dozens more at institutions including a major retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2001), which travelled to Malmo, Sweden; Madrid, Spain and Rome, Italy; Museum of Modern Art, Toyama, Japan (1988); Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (1979); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1972), which toured to several venues in the USA; Centre national d'Art contemporain, Fondation Rothschild, Paris (1968); Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (1967) and Pasadena Art Museum, California (1959).

In 1981 Francis was appointed Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture. He died aged 71 in 1994 in California, USA.

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