Sam Francis: Five Decades of Abstract Expressionism from California Collections

August 11, 2013–January 5, 2014

The exhibition celebrates internationally acclaimed California native Sam Francis (1923–1994), one of the state’s most historically significant artists. Featuring a colorful range of the artist’s paintings and unique works on paper, this survey highlights different periods of the artist’s oeuvre as represented in extraordinary public and private California collections, starting from the early works that the artist made in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1940s, and leading up to the artist’s influential and expansive body of work created between the 1950s and the 1990s. Represented are works made in the artist’s California studios in Palo Alto, Point Reyes, Santa Monica, and Venice, as well as those made when Francis was living in New York, Switzerland, and Japan.

This exhibition is co-curated by Peter Selz, Ph.D. and Debra Burchett-Lere and is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue. The exhibition is organized by the Pasadena Museum of California Art and the Crocker Art Museum in collaboration with the Sam Francis Foundation.

This exhibition is supported by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Pasadena Art Alliance, Pasadena Arts League, Bente and Gerald E. Buck, Simon K. Chiu, Susan and Jim Crawford, Jeff Dutra, Gina Knox, The Kwon Family Foundation, Penny and Jay Lusche, D. Harry Montgomery, Cathie and David Partridge, Kathleen Peck, Brooke L. Abercrombie and Christopher A. Wilson, and Jonathan Novak Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

Additional support is provided by KCRW.

In-kind support provided by Peet's Coffee & Tea.


Image Credit:

Sam Francis, Middle Blue No. 5 [detail], 1959–60. Watercolor on paper, 26 3/4 x 40 1/4 inches. Collection of the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive; Gift of Julian J. and Joachim Jean Aberbach, New York (1965.38). Artwork © Sam Francis Foundation, California / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Press Release:

Related Programs:
Sunday, August 11 at 3 pm | In Dialogue
Sam Francis: Five Decades of Abstract Expressionism from California Collections co-curators Debra Burchett-Lere and Peter Selz, Ph.D., and moderator Jessica Todd Smith, Curator of American Art at The Huntington Library, lend insight into Sam Francis’s artwork and its historical context. Panelists consider the artist’s various styles and influences as well as his continuous exploration of color, light, and the spatial relationships in his works.
Saturday, September 21 at 6 pm | Film Night
Join us for a screening of the film, The Painter Sam Francis (85 minutes), by Jeffrey Perkins. The film retraces Francis’s life and career and features an interview that Perkins conducted with his friend and mentor Sam Francis in 1973 as well as other interviews with friends, family, and fellow artists.
Sunday, November 3 at 3 pm | Insight Talk
Debra Burchett-Lere, co-curator of Sam Francis: Five Decades of Abstract Expressionism from California Collections, leads a walkthrough of the exhibition and discusses Sam Francis’s mastery of color and understanding of light through examples of paintings that span fifty years.