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Francis, Sam


monotype on paper

2001 Purchase funded by The Collectors Club

Sam Francis was the most inventive artist among a group of young abstract painters in San Francisco. His work reveals his exploration of compositional space and fluid forms. He applied color pigments to white painted canvas to achieve pure, opaque masses of color that drip and merge together.

Francis developed his style of painting in the 1950s while in Paris. By the 1960s, his unlimited fields of color-drenched cells evolved into red, blue and yellow shapes that appeared to be dripped and spattered onto fields of white. Despite the spontaneous appearance of his compostions, Francis was highly methodical in his approach. He eventually moved his abstract shapes to the edge of his paintings, leaving large spaces of white in the center.

In this untitled monotype, Francis applied color directly to the printing plate and produced only one image from it. He added colors, marks and handprints to complete it. His classic gestural style is evident in this piece, which is one of his largest works on paper.