Biography – SAM FRANCIS
American artist born in San Mateo (California), 1923 and died in Santa Monica, 1994. Samuel Lewis Francis, named Sam Francis, was a major representative of the non-figurative painting movement, and more particularly of the “Action Painting” in the USA, a movement in which the action of painting is made without any preconceived idea of the final result. The gesture, the action of the artist prevails. In 1943, he joined the Air Force as an aviator, but in 1944 his plane crashed in the desert. His spine was seriously injured and he was hospitalized for two years. He started painting during his convalescence, convinced about the therapeutic efficiency of the act of painting. After he left the hospital, he started art studies in Berkeley, and in 1946 he went to San Francisco in order to attend Clyfford Still’s courses, an artist he had discovered in an exhibition. Sam Francis’ works were first related to Abstract Expressionnism. After this first true meeting with abstract art, he flew to Paris around 1948-1949. After 1949, he started painting irregular spots of colors looking like cells. He was described as a tachiste painter, word that makes reference to the fortuity of that creation: the shapes are spots, appearing randomly, and emerging spontaneously. After 1950, his characteristic style softened in favor of monochrome canvases. Sam Francis wanted to transmit an impression of infinity, a space with no beginning and no end; his works becoming pieces of infinity going way beyond the canvases. He goes beyond the notion of frame. His shapes and background must fill the whole pictorial space, and dilute in favor of depth. In some of his canvases, this “dissolution” of the shape goes to make it appear liquid, explaining the vertical drips of paint forming like a spider web, a network that links the spot-shapes together. Then follows an extensive research on light. Sam Francis was preoccupied by the two contradictory states of the light: black, original background from which springs the light, and white, the base of the light and the sum of the colors. He looked for the right balance because, as he said, “when the light increases, the darkness increases as well”. Thus he experimented the superposition of color veils, which allowed him to reduce the intensity of light. His painting is not frozen. The irregular form of the spots and the inequality of the colors in tones and hues give an impression of movement.