Sam Francis 1923-1994
Sam Francis was a powerful force in the twentieth century art world. In the early 1950s, Francis moved from Berkley to Paris and was named by Time Magazine as, “the hottest American painter in Paris these days.”
His journey to Paris, and to his success, was not an easy one. Francis served in the Air Force during World War ll. He developed Spinal Tuberculosis and was hospitalized for three years. Despite his illness, Francis taught himself to paint. When he was released, he attended Berkley. He received both his BA and MA, and studied botany, medicine and psychology, as well as art.
During his more than fifty year career, Francis traveled and lived across three continents and married five times. He produced thousands of artworks and had more than one hundred solo exhibits. He founded a publishing company, a printing press, a holistic research center and a wind energy company that is still in existence. During the mid-1950s through the mid-1960s, Francis commanded the highest prices of any living painter.
His estate was valued at $79 million. The Sam Francis Foundation supports “creativity in society” through arts education.
Sam Francis: Three Short Films have recently been released and can be viewed on the Sam Francis Foundation website. The films were done by Tiana Alexandria Williams, a USC graduate student in Cinema and Media Studies. The films focus on Francis’ life and work in the Santa Monica area. Interviews with two of the artist’s sons and a look at the home and work life of Sam Francis make them compelling viewing.
Alfred Jensen 1903-1981
Alfred Jensen had many friends in the art world, but he was always considered an outsider. He met Sam Francis in 1955. He met Mark Rothko in 1952. Rothko became a close friend and had a profound influence on Jensen’s work.
At a time when Abstract Expressionism was the most popular movement of the day, Jensen’s carefully composed works were a mystery to many viewers.
Jensen spoke five languages. He read Goethe’s Farbelehre, his work on color theory, more than twenty times in the original German. He was also interested in the I-Ching and magic squares, alchemy, astronomy, Mayan calendars and counting systems, Egyptian temple design, physics, Inca ruins, Greek philosophy and Golden Sections, Pythagorus, Plato and Leonardo Da Vinci.
His works are part of the permanent collection of MoMA, the Whitney, the National Gallery of Art in Washington and major museums around the world.
Lauren Moya Ford. Artist Sam Francis Gets His First Comprehensive Biography. Hyperallergic. October 24, 2021.
Chris Martin. Reflections on Alfred Jensen. The Brooklyn Rail. Jan-Feb 2002.