Sam Francis

1923-1994, American

Sam Francis is an American painter who studied medicine at the college before an injury he sustained while serving in the US air force during World War II instilled a deep skepticism towards the results of human violence, rationality, and egocentrism in him. The experience inspired his interest in exploring our innate sentimentality and creativity by studying art and art history. 

As one of the masters of Abstract Expressionism like Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, and Jackson Pollock, he weaved across the boundaries separating action painting from color field painting to develop his own distinctive style of expression and explored the effect of overlapping colors produced by expanding the surface available for diluted paint. Though early in his career, he practiced a more conventional mode of Abstract Expressionism, he began developing a completely distinctive style for himself by studying French Tachisme as well as Eastern dots and lines. He has been hailed for his use of the dramatic exposure of the canvas. His strategic efforts to liberate the painting from the restraints of its square frame also resonated with many. 

Sam Francis focuses on releasing his creative energy on the canvas to create a spontaneous painting surface. On his travels through the East, Francis studied the ways in which Eastern art employed the beauty of blank space and the aesthetics of lines in their works. By employing blank spaces, rather than empty white spaces, Francis demonstrates its efficacy as a dramatic tool of painterly composition. As among the first to introduce ideas from Asian painting into Western art, Francis took Abstract Expressionism to the next level and helped American art make its mark on the international art of its time. His influence also laid the groundwork for Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Yves Klein to pioneer the Pop Art movement.