Sam Francis (1923 - 1994)
Francis is loosely associated with the group of second-generation abstract expressionists, who during the 1950s reacted against the first generation by focusing on more expressive uses of color. Francis’s love of color stemmed from his time in Paris, where he immersed himself in the art of Monet, Bonnard, and Matisse; however, rather than commingle figuration and color as they did, Francis created large, luminous abstractions that were intended to envelop the viewer, as in The Phillips Collection’s Blue (1958).
When Time magazine touted Francis in 1956 as the “hottest American painter in Paris,” his work came as a revelation to both artists and public in America. Francis quickly took his place among the country’s leading abstract expressionists. Following this trend, just two years later Duncan Phillips mounted a show of Francis’s works, the artist’s first major exhibition in Washington, D.C. Phillips often hung Francis’s work with paintings by the American artists Tomlin, Rothko, Gottlieb, and Morris Louis.
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