Sam Francis: The Artist's Materials
Debra Burchett-Lere and Aneta Zebala; 2019
The Artist's Materials Series
American artist Sam Francis (19231994) brought vivid color and emotional intensity to Abstract Expressionism. He was described as the "most sensuous and sensitive painter of his generation" by former Guggenheim Museum director James Johnson Sweeney. Francis's works, whether intimate or monumental in scale, make indelible impressions; the intention of the artist was to make them felt as much as seen.
At the age of twenty, Francis was hospitalized for spinal tuberculosis and spent three years virtually immobilized in a body cast. For physical therapy he was given a set of watercolors, and, as he described it, he painted his way back to life. The exuberant color and expression in his paintings celebrated his survival; his five-decade career was an energetic visual exploration that took him around the world.
Francis's idiosyncratic painting practices have long been the subject of speculation and debate among conservators and art historians. Presented here for the first time in this volume are the results of an in-depth scientific study of more than forty paintings, which reveal new information about his creative process. The data provides a key to the complicated evolution of the artist's work and informs original art historical interpretations.