Sam Francis discovered painting in 1944, while bedridden in hospital recovering from a plane crash. Upon completing his studies in art and art history in California, he went to study in Paris, where he was particularly influenced by the work of Claude Monet. Abstraction is a superb example of the transition – hinted at by other American painters, such as Clyfford Still, Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland – from Abstract Expressionism to a lighter type of abstract painting characterized by broad forms and bright, luminous colours. Exhibited in 1956 at Montreal’s Galerie L’Actuelle, Abstraction was to have a decisive influence on several young Montreal painters, who saw it steer an unprecedented path between Automatisme and Plasticisme. This was a meaningful turn of events, since it was a young painter from Montreal, Jean Paul Riopelle, who in Paris introduced Francis to Parisian art circles and put him in contact with critic Georges Duthuit, known as “a guide to French culture.” At Duthuit’s house in Provence, Francis’ palette grew lighter.
© Sam Francis Foundation, California / SODRAC, Montreal / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY (2021)