1932, San Mateo (California) – 1994, Santa Monica (California)
The early monochromatic paintings produced by Sam Francis in Paris transcended the prevailing influence of Art Informel. With his 1953 work Big Red he resumed the American tradition of Colour Field painting, but also found inspiration in the work of various European painters who used ‘suggestive colour’, including Claude Monet, Pierre Bonnard, Paul Gauguin and Henri Matisse. A lasting impression was made on him, in particular, by Monet’s water lily paintings, which inspired him to compose pictorial space from discrete but interrelated cells of colour that generate a loosely woven texture and open up a non-illusionistic depth of field. A further result of his preoccupation with Monet was his use of intense colour hues, especially the triad blue, green and red, which he juxtaposed to produce stark contrasts; through their fluid application, these colours also overlap and trickle down in coloured streaks. “I make the late Monet pure”, Sam Francis purportedly declared in 1950, alluding to his commitment to abstraction [related by Bernard Schultze in a letter to Annelise Hoyer in August 1967].