The imagery and works included in the Sam Francis exhibition exude a spontaneity, openness, and bold presence that were as much a part of the artist as of his work. Francis allowed chance and accident to shape his images. His ability to understand and convey the meaning of these unconscious elements enables viewers to understand the artist, as well as his art.
“There are as many images as eyes to see.”-Sam Francis
Born in Northern California in 1923, Sam Francis was an American painter and printmaker. Francis attended the University of California at Berkeley before leaving to join the Army Air Corps in 1943. While recuperating from injuries suffered during his service, he began to paint and in the late 1940s, Francis began to study at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) and UC Berkeley to study painting and art history, eventually earning bachelor's and master’s degrees.
The artist's desire to explore his art led him to Paris in the early '50s, and it was here that his professional career as an artist indeed began. Francis attended the Atelier Fernand Léger, where he was exposed to the work of Pierre Bonnard and Henri Matisse, which reinvigorated his interest in light and vibrant color.
From early in his career, Francis realized commercial and critical success with his large, paint-splattered, colorful images and Between 1950 and 1958 Francis spent time the south of France, Tokyo, Mexico City, Bern, and New York. His artistic development was affected by his exposure to modern French painting, Asian culture and Zen Buddhism in particular. His paintings of the 1950s evolved through a series of stages, beginning with monochromatic abstractions, followed by more massive richly colored murals and "open" paintings that feature large areas of whiteness. After his 1953 painting "Big Red" was included in the 1956 exhibition "Twelve Artists" at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Francis began a rapid rise to international prominence.
Included in the exhibition are archetypal works and images – mandalas, trellises, and spirals which dominated his work during a period in the ‘70s when he immersed himself in the work of Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung. In Jung's writings, Francis discovered ideas which he instinctively held to be true, and which he was convinced he had been exhibiting in his work from the start. Francis' works of the early 1970s have been referred to as Fresh Air pictures. Created by adding pools, drips, and splatters of color to wet bands of paint applied with a roller, these works re-asserted the artist's interest in color. By 1973–4 many of Francis' paintings featured a regular grid or matrix made up of crossing tracks of color. Many of these matrix works were massive in scale, measuring up to twenty feet long.
“An increase in light gives an increase in darkness.” Sam Francis
During the course of his career, Sam Francis was commissioned to paint many important murals, including those in at the Louvre Museum in Paris, the San Francisco Museum of Modern and the Kunsthalle in Basel, Switzerland. The list of the artists solo exhibitions and museum collections is extensive. His first one-person exhibition was in Paris in 1952 and Francis sold his first painting to the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1955. Retrospectives of his work have been held by the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Kunsthalle in Basel, Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, Pompidou Centre in Paris, The Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, The Museum of Modern Art in Toyama, Japan, Sweden's, Malmo Konsthall, Museo Nacional in Madrid, Galleria Communale in Rome and the Los Angeles Museum of Art.
Sam Francis died in 1994. In the end, for the artist, the power of art lies not in its superficial effects, but how it resonates in the soul. As he said, "Depth is all." Despite its simplicity of form, it is no wonder that the art of this intense and thoughtful man is deeply personal, revealing the presence of a powerful and genuinely creative spirit.
In the wake of the artist's death, the Sam Francis Foundation was founded. Its stated mission is to "research, document, protect and perpetuate the creative legacy of the artist" and "promote awareness of and knowledge about the art of Sam Francis to the public through education and information. Martin Lawrence Galleries is proud to be exhibiting works by Sam Francis and invites you to view this profound abstract expressionist as well as original works by Andy Warhol, Rembrandt, Picasso, Chagall, Keith Haring, and Takashi Murakami. Located in the heart of SoHo the gallery provides an unparalleled fine art experience.
About Martin Lawrence Galleries
Since 1978, Martin Lawrence Galleries (MLG)-headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut with nine gallery locations nationwide including New York, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, New Orleans, San Francisco, Costa Mesa, La Jolla, Maui has been assisting and advising collectors as they consider acquiring fine art. (MLG), has prided and defined ourselves as both publishers of fine art prints and sculpture from the most talented contemporary artists-both North American and European-and home to modern and contemporary masters like Picasso, Chagall, Warhol, Calder, Magritte, Basquiat, and Murakami. We are extremely proud to have lent and exhibited over 200 masterworks, created by more than 30 different artists, to 30+ world-class museums around the globe…including the Louvre, the Pompidou, the Metropolitan, the Whitney, the National Gallery, the Tate and the Hermitage- where we are the sole sponsor of the first ever exhibition of the work of Erté, the father of art deco and we proudly publish works by artists including Kondakova, Hallam, Bertho, Fressinier, Lalonde andDeyber. For more information visit martinlawrence.com
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