Saturday, December 21, 2013

KCRW's "ArtTalk" with Hunter Drohojowska-Philp on Sam Francis

On KCRW's "ArtTalk" Hunter Drohojowska-Philp mentions "Sam Francis Fifty Years" as a high point among this year's art exhibitions. 

Looking Back

THU DEC 19, 2013

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Shingo Francis at Galerie Kornfeld

Cristina Barroso 
Shingo Francis 
Bodo Korsig 

Curated by Patricia Kornfeld

November 19th - December 21st, 2013  

Opening Reception: November 19th, 8:00-10:00pm
Galerie Kornfeld 
Laupenstrasse 41 
Bern, Switzerland 3008
tel: 031/ 381 46 73
Shingo Francis will be showing with Stuttgardt based artist Cristina Barroso of Brazil, and Trier based artist Bodo Korsig of Germany at the historic Galerie Kornfeld located in the Swiss capital of Bern. Curated by Patricia Kornfeld, the three person exhibition brings together painting, drawing, sculpture and installation. Although each artist has their individual studio practice which has evolved over the years, they share common sensibilities of line, shape, form, color and an underlying concept.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sam Francis: Five Decades Reviewed in Art Ltd. Magazine

Sam Francis, Middle Blue #5, 1959-60
Watercolor on paper, 26 3/4" x 40 1/4" 
University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive; Gift of Julian J. and Joachim Jean Aberbach
Artwork copyright: Sam Francis Foundation, California / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Molly Enholm reviews "Sam Francis: Five Decades of Abstract Expressionism from California Collections" at the Pasadena Museum of California Art in the November/December 2013 issue of Art Ltd. magazine:

Ultimately, PMCA’s exhibition offers much more than can be summarized in a decade-by-decade synopsis of the artist’s formal excursions and influences. Although the exhibition lacks any of the monumentally scaled paintings that have the ability to truly envelop the viewer, it offers a journey through the full arc of the artist’s career. Taken altogether, the exhibition finds clarity through Francis’s relatively fixed palette, dominated by cerulean blues and primary colors— a visual cohesion that unites his seemingly inexhaustible manipulations of this motif. 

Click here to read the complete review on the Art Ltd. website.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Debra Burchett-Lere Speaks About Sam Francis in Pasadena

On Sunday, November 3rd, Debra Burchett-Lere -- Director of the Sam Francis Foundation -- spoke to a crowd of about 75 at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. Walking through the exhibition "Sam Francis: Five Decades of Abstract Expressionism from California Collections," Burchett-Lere spoke about the artist's personal history and gave personal insights into his works and ideas.

Here are some photos from the event, followed by a brief video clip:

Burchett-Lere describes the impact of Francis' Parisian period

Debra Burchett- Lere accompanied by PMCA Director Jenkins Shannon

Burchett-Lere makes her point in front of a Sam Francis painting from the 1970s

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sam Francis "Untitled" Installation at Mint Museum Uptown

This short video documents the installation of Sam Francis' "Untitled" painting in the Robert Haywood Morrison Atrium at Mint Museum Uptown, Charlotte, NC.

Credit: Sam Francis (American, 1923-1994). "Untitled (Seafirst)," 1979. Acrylic on canvas. Generously donated by Bank of America Corporation. © 2013 Sam Francis Foundation, California / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY.

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Sam Francis Foundation at the White House Historical Association Reception

Debra Burchett-Lere, Director of the Sam Francis Foundation, was recently invited to the White House for a reception in honor of the White House Historical Association in recognition of American art. She was in attendance on June 5, 2013 along with artists and representatives of  foundations, organizations and museums from all 50 states. 

"It was such a wonderful afternoon," Debra comments, "3 hours of music, food, talk, and a personal meeting with Mrs. Obama, who was the host of the event."

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

This Instagram user is "Still reeling" from the Sam Francis exhibit at PMCA!

From Instragram user darrahelenb:

Still reeling from this epic exhibit today. Just go see the
v(ery) well hung Sam Francis retrospective at the Pasadena
Museum of California Art. 

Thanks darrahelenb! 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Wall Street Journal Calls "Sam Francis: Five Decades" a "Rare Opportunity."

"This miniretrospective offers a rare opportunity to sample first-rate works drawn from the entire career of one of this country's most profound, brilliant and varied Abstract Expressionists. We begin with white. We will end with white. One independent, deeply introspective artist found within himself the colors and shapes to express the sufferings and joys of a peripatetic life in between, filled with painting and pain."

- David Littlejohn, writing in the Wall Street Journal, Sept. 18, 2013

Click here to read the complete text

Monday, September 9, 2013

David Littlejohn's Amazon Review of the Sam Francis: Catalogue Raisonné

David Littlejohn, who writes about art for the Wall Street Journal, recently posted this five star review of the Sam Francis: Catalogue Raisonné of Canvas and Panel Paintings, 1946-1994 on

The wonder of Debra Burchett-Lere's Catalogue Raisonne of all known surviving 8,555 paintings (on canvas or panel) by Sam Francis is that you can examine each one in full color and full screen size by way of excellent CD images, which may then be enlarged for closer study. The details given for each painting are magnificently comprehensive. In addition, there are 116 color reproductions of Francis's more important paintings (and those of many other artists who influenced him) in William Agee's excellent 120-page bio-critical introduction, and a great many revealing photographs of Francis's life in Debra Burchett-Lere's 150-page "Time Line," the most thorough biography of the man and his legacy I have seen. The printed volume concludes with a 60 page of additional valuable information. There is also a second CD which includes copies of writings by Francis and his associates, as well as two fascinating short films showing Francis at work. $500 may seem a lot, but for you get a whole art gallery as well as two books in the library of information on America's most important abstract artist, and one of the world's greatest colorists. The single book and the two CDs are handsomely boxed in with strikes me as the best Catalogue Raisonne published so far. Clearly, a long labor of love by Ms. Burchett-Lereand the Sam Francis Foundation--who are now hard at work on a second Sam Francis CR, to include his more than 8000 works on paper.

To view the review on click here. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

KUSC ArtsAlive: Peter Selz and Debra Burchett-Lere on Sam Francis

Dr. Peter Selz

Kelsey McConnell of KUSC "Arts Alive"recently spoke to Peter Selz and Debra Burchett-Lere, the co-curators of "Sam Francis: Five Decades." Click on the link below to listen to the interview:

Listen to ArtsAlive

"Sam Francis: Five Decades."  was also featured by the LA Weekly as its top "Artsy Thing to Do" during the last week of August. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Sam Francis on the Cover of the LA Times Calendar Section

 An explosive 1953 Sam Francis watercolor appeared on the cover of the August 14th LA Times Calendar section, along with a review of "Sam Francis: Five Decades"  by Times Art Critic Christopher Knight

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Sam Francis "Five Decades" Draws Crowds and Raves

The crowd waits for panelists Debra Burchett-Lere and Peter Selz on August 11th
Photo: Greg Dahl

L to R: Jessica Todd Smith, Debra Burchett-Lere, Dr Peter Selz
Photo: Greg Dahl

Sam Francis: Five Decades of Abstract Expressionism from California Collections opened this past weekend with a well-attended panel discussion featuring the show's curators Debra Burchett-Lere and Dr. Peter Selz. The show appears to be a crowd-pleaser, and is drawing rave reviews in the press. 

Christopher Knight, writing for the LA Times says the show "impresses" and calls it "a satisfying and wide-ranging introduction to a marvelous artist's work."

Marc Haefele, a critic for Southern California Public Radio  was deeply impressed by Francis' late works, commenting:  "...the pictures he did in his last months, with their new submarine greens and early sunrise reds, exceed in their imagination anything he’d done before. Go see them while you can."

William Poundstone, who evaluates Francis' historical importance in a blog posted at art, says that Francis had "a near-perfect career" and observes that "Though the exhibition limits itself to public and private California collections, that’s ultimately not much of a limitation."

Hunter Drowhojowski-Philp -- whose review was broadcast by Radio Station KCRW -- feels that Sam Francis transcended his personal pain and calls his triumphant career "unexpected:"

Unexpected because fellow abstract artists tended to be driven by angst and anger. Unexpected, too, because one might expect a man who had been through Francis' personal trials to produce a sour sort of art. Instead, he painted as though blessed.

August 11, 2013–January 5, 2014
The Pasadena Museum of California Art

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Peter Selz on Sam Francis: "He is the most important California artist ever."

Art historian Peter Selz, now 94, was a close friend of Sam Francis, and remains an avid supporter of the artist's legacy. In a recent conversation with Debra Burchett-Lere, the Director of the Sam Francis Foundation, Selz said of Francis: "He is the most important California artist ever."

Peter Selz at his home in Berkeley, California, in 2012 with Sam Francis, Iris, 1965/67, acrylic on canvas,
891⁄2 x 71 in. (227.33 x 180.34 cm); photo by Debra Burchett-Lere

It is a strong statement -- especially considering the acclaim that Richard Diebenkorn continues to receive -- but Selz asserts that Francis' international reputation needs to be considered. 

"Sam is probably the most international of all the American artists of his time. I mean Richard Diebenkorn is a well-known Californian who is collected internationally, and there are many others, but Sam goes far beyond that." 

 The dialogue with Burchett-Lere, which will be included in the opening of the catalog for the upcoming exhibition "Sam Francis: Five Decades of Abstract Expressionism from California Collections," is a wide-ranging conversation in which Selz offers a number of revelations and recollections. In one anecdote Selz recounts his intitial reaction to Sam's "Basel Murals:"

"I remember when I saw the Basel Mural Triptych in the Documenta III exhibition, I had been in Europe quite a long time and had seen some works by Sam here and there. But when I saw that triptych I was really flabbergasted—I mean the light, the air, the color. There simply was nobody who had that sense of color that Sam had. Nobody.

Selz also states that during his tenure as a curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York he had planned to give Francis a one-man exhibition, but that the show never happened due to a change in the museum's directorship. Another interesting note: Sam Francis was the last artist to receive an honorary art degree from UC Berkeley. The degree was awarded to him after his 1968 exhibition at the Berkeley Museum. 

As the dialogue between Selz and Burchett-Lere reveals, Peter Selz occupied a unique position in Sam's life, and Selz still misses the connection: 

I miss a really close personal friend, a person whom I could talk to about many things: my feelings, mydreams, his dreams, our thoughts...It was just a very close personal relationship between an artist and his critic. I miss him a lot.

Debra Burchett-Lere and Peter Selz will be discussing Sam Francis at a public panel at the Pasadena Museum of California Art on Sunday, August 11th at 3:PM:

Click here for more information on the Panel Discussion. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sam Francis Basel Mural II on view at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

"Basel Mural II" by Sam Francis will be on view at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam through September 15, 2013, sharing a gallery with Ellworth Kelly's 1963 freestanding aluminum sculpture "Blue Red Rocker."  The Stedelijk Museum re-opened in September of 2012 -- under the direction of former MOCA curator Anne Goldstein -- after being closed for eight years of renovation and expansion.  For that reason, Basel Mural II has not been on public display for over a decade.

The mural on display in Amsterdam was originally part of a trio that has been separated since 1964, when they last hung in the Basel Kunsthalle. In 1967 "Basel Mural I" was donated by Francis to the Pasadena Art Museum, which later became the Norton Simon Museum. It now shares a room at the Simon with two vertical fragments of "Basel Mural III" at the Simon. 

In a blog written about "Basel Mural I" for the Huffington Post, John Seed noted:

"Gorgeous, seemingly alive, and resolutely abstract, "Basel Mural I," and the two other murals that once accompanied it, have their aesthetic roots in the vast, horizonless Monet "Nymphéas" installed on the lower floor of the Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris."

Friday, July 12, 2013

"Free Floating Clouds" by Lorenzo Pagliei: a Musical Homage to Painter Sam Francis

Lorenzo Pagliei, a composer, electronic musician, pianist and conductor, is the creator of "Free Floating Clouds" a 14 minute 18 second long composition created as an homage to Sam Francis. Recorded in 2004 the composition requires 13 musicians, and was conducted by Andrea Panieri, and recorded and released by Edizioni Suvini-Zerboni of Milan.

Lornezo Pagliei

Portions of "Free Floating Clouds" -- and other compositions by Pagliei -- can be heard on Click  here to listen. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Remembering Artist Sam Francis on his 90th Birthday

Samuel Lewis Francis
Born on June 25, 1923, San Mateo, California
Died: November 4, 1994, Santa Monica, California

"Color is born of the interpenetration of light and dark." - Sam Francis

Friday, June 14, 2013

A "Sneak Peek" of "Sam Francis: Five Decades of Abstract Expressionism" at PMCA

On Saturday, May 18th, the PMCA hosted a special “Sneak Peek” of the upcoming Sam Francis: Five Decades of Abstract Expressionism from California Collections for the museum’s newly formed Ambassador Circle.  Guests included PMCA Board members including Chairman David Partridge and his wife Cathie, as well lenders to the exhibition, PMCA Ambassador Gerald Buck and Nancy Escher among others.  Also in attendance were Janice Bea, Julie Ward and Diane Bedford, all members of the Pasadena Art Alliance, the renowned organization which awarded a grant in support of the exhibition.  

PCMA Executive Director Jenkins Shannon (left) with Sam Francis 
Foundation Director and Interim President Debra Burchett-Lere (right)

Co-curator of the exhibition and Sam Francis Foundation Director and Interim President, Debra Burchett-Lere told the story of Sam Francis’s life through a slide show of his oeuvre and its myriad of artistic styles as well as through  actual photographs of the artist. Sam Francis: Five Decades of Abstract Expressionism from California Collections, the first major museum exhibition of Francis’s work in over a decade. It brings together Francis’s paintings and unique works on paper from extraordinary public and private California collections, including many paintings on view to the public for the first time.

PCMA Chairman David Partridge speaks at the "Sneak Preview"

Opening Reception
Saturday, August 10, 7-9pm
Please join us for the opening of Sam Francis: Five Decades of Abstract Expressionism from California Collections.
$5 admission, free for PMCA Members

In Dialogue
Sunday, August 11, 3pm
Sam Francis: Five Decades of Abstract Expressionism from California Collections co-curators Debra Burchett-Lere and Peter Selz, Ph.D. and moderator Insert Name Here 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.
Free with admission

Film Night
Saturday, September 21, 6pm
Join us for a screening of the film, The Painter Sam Francis (85 minutes), by Jeffrey Perkins. The film re-traces 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.
Free with admission

Insight Talk
Sunday, November 3, 3pm
Debra Burchett-Lere, co-curator of Sam Francis: Five Decades of Abstract Expressionism from California Collections, leads a walkthrough of the exhibition and discuss Sam Francis’s mastery of color and understanding of light through examples of paintings that span fifty years.
Free with admission 

For more information, visit

Friday, May 17, 2013

Sam Francis "Symphony" on Paper Sets Auction Record

Sam Francis, "Symphony in Blue," 1958
Gouache and watercolor on paper
27 x 39.4 inches

Sold for $1,145,000 US at Sotheby's, New York, May 15, 2013

A new auction record for a Sam Francis work on paper.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sam Francis "Untitled," 1958 Sells for $4.6M at Christie's

Sam Francis (1923-1994)
signed and dated 'Sam Francis 1958' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
43½ x 58½ in. (110.4 x 148.5 cm.)

Sold at Christie's, New York (Evening Sale) on May 15, 2013

Price Realized: $4,603,750 

For complete details, visit Christie's Online

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sam Francis: Five Decades of Abstract Expressionism from California Collections

August 11, 2013–January 5, 2014

Pasadena, CAThe Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA), is proud to present Sam Francis: Five Decades of Abstract Expressionism from California Collections, the first major museum exhibition of Francis’s work in over a decade. Known as one of the twentieth century’s most influential painters of light and color, Sam Francis maintained studios in New York, France, Switzerland, and Japan, but continually returned to his native California, finishing his last series of paintings in Santa Monica just before his death in November 1994. The exhibition brings together Francis’s paintings and unique works on paper from extraordinary public and private California collections, including many paintings on view to the public for the first time.

Born in June 1923 in San Mateo, near San Francisco, Francis started his career in California. He moved to France in 1950, and by 1956 he was described by Time magazine as “the hottest American painter in Paris these days,” signaling his arrival as one of the first post-World War II American painters to develop a truly international reputation. Having stated, “Painting is about the beauty of space and the power of containment,” Francis spent his career investigating that belief through his use of color, understanding of light, and lyrical rhythmic compositions. His works not only contributed to the range of styles and influences in the world of painting, he also referenced and responded to the California Bay Area Modernists with his early paintings from the 1940s to early 1950s; French Impressionism, Abstract Expressionism, and Chinese and Japanese scroll paintings with his works from the 1950s; and Color Field Painting with paintings in the 1960s. Although his oeuvre can be loosely associated within these broad artistic styles, his life and art were complex and varied, defying any specific characterization or interpretation.

Spanning fifty years, the works included in the exhibition explore Francis’s use of saturated tones (blues, reds, or yellows) and pigments ranging in hue from light to dark representing a kind of duality in the universe both understood and imagined. The exhibition includes some of his smallest works, which measure three by two inches, as well as monumental murals that are over ten feet long, each with a distinctive power and presence regardless of size or material. This exhibition includes some of the artist’s loosely defined series including the “Cellular” paintings from the 1950s, the “Blue Balls” and “Edge” paintings of the 1960s, and the “Fresh Air” and “Grids” from the 1970s. Other works include mandalas, late self-portraits, and Francis’s alchemically inspired works of the 1980s and early 1990s.

An illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition featuring a recent dialogue on Francis and his work between the exhibition’s co-curators: art historian Peter Selz, Ph.D., former curator at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and author of the first monograph on the artist, and Debra Burchett-Lere, the executive director and interim president of the Sam Francis Foundation. Burchett-Lere is also the author of the recently published Sam Francis Catalogue Raisonné of Canvas and Panel Paintings: 1946–1994, published by the University of California Press.

Sam Francis: Five Decades of Abstract Expressionism from California Collections is organized by the Sam Francis Foundation in collaboration with the Pasadena Museum of California Art and the Crocker Art Museum. The exhibition will travel to the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, CA, where it will be on view from January 26 – April 20, 2014.

Saturday, August 10, 2013 | 7–9pm
$5 admission | Free for PMCA members

The mission of the Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA) is to present the breadth of California art and design through exhibitions that explore the cultural dynamics and influences that are unique to California.

Open Wednesday–Sunday, 12–5pm; third Thursdays of the month, 5–8pm; closed Mondays, Tuesdays, July 4th, Thanksgiving
Day, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

$7 for adults, $5 for seniors and students; free for PMCA members and children under 12; free the first Friday of the month (all day); free the third Thursday of the month (5–8pm). Access for people with disabilities is provided.

The Museum is located at 490 East Union Street. From the 210 Freeway, take the Lake Avenue exit. Go south and take a right on Union Street. From the 110 Freeway/Downtown Los Angeles, follow the freeway until its end, then take Arroyo Parkway and turn right at Colorado, then left at Oakland to get to Union Street. Parking is available at the Museum.

At this time, the museum does not offer regularly scheduled docent tours. However, docent tours are available Wednesday–Friday to private groups for a fee of $75. A non-refundable deposit of $40 is due two weeks prior to the scheduled date.

Docent-led group tours and self-guided tours for K-12 students are offered for free. We regret that we are unable to accommodate tours for groups larger than 35 people. Before requesting a tour, please check the exhibition calendar to see which exhibitions will be available during your visit.

A discounted group rate of $3 per person is available for groups of 20 or more (K-12 student groups are free). Please call to notify us at least one week in advance for these special admission rates.

For any questions or to make reservations for a tour or group rate, please call Alexis Kaneshiro, 626.568.3665 x13 or email

For more information, please call 626.568.3665 or visit

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Shingo Francis at Schmalfuss Berlin

"Stronger Than Fear is Hope"

April 13th ~ Jun 1st, 2013

Opening reception: Saturday, April 13th 17:00~20:00

Shingo Francis will be participating in an international exhibition in Berlin curated by Bodo Korsig of Germany. "Stronger than Fear is Hope" is a poetic title referring to hope as a motivating factor that overrides the fear of doing something.  Artist and curator Bodo Korsig invites the viewer to identify with the hope that has kept the artist to continue his or her studio practice over many years.  

Opening hours:
Tuesday-Friday 11am to 6pm, Saturday 11am to 4pm
Monday and other appointments upon request

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sotheby's S2 Exhibition Space and Sam Francis in Art+Auction Magazine

A recent article by Judd Tully, "The Auction House 2.0: How New Strategies, and Growth, May Shift and Old Duopoly," published in the March 2013 issue of Art+Auction magazine, mentions that the first "selling exhibition" of Sotheby's new S2 exhibition space featured works by Sam Francis:
In September 2011 Sotheby’s launched S2, a Richard Gluckman–designed gallery space in the company’s York Avenue headquarters. Devoted to independently curated selling shows, S2 has called upon Debra Burchett-Lere, director of the Sam Francis Foundation; the private dealer Josh Baer; and, in a concerted effort to draw a younger crowd, the ultrahip independent curator Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld.
You can read more about the exhibition, "Sam Francis: The Exploration of Color, A Selling Exhibition." on the Sotheby's website.

The S2 exhibition didn't just inaugurate Sotheby's new Richard Gluckman designed space: it coincided with the publication of the "Sam Francis Catalogue Raisonné of Canvas and Panel Paintings, 1946 – 1994."

Friday, March 29, 2013

Sam Francis at Paris Art Fair

These two Sam Francis works on paper are on view at the Art Paris Art Fair, March 28 - April 1st at the Grand Palais. Thanks @NathB for posting these on Twitter!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Upcoming Group Exhibition with Sam Francis March 29–July 21, 2013