Explore the Era

Delve into the postwar Los Angeles art world in this online archive, which provides additional material related to the exhibitions on view at the Getty Center. Learn about hipsters and happenings, and the venues across the city where all the action took place through images from the archives and first-hand accounts with the artists.

Sam Francis

Sam Francis

Sam Francis working in his studio in Santa Monica, California, 1971. Image courtesy of Malcolm Lubliner and Craig Krull Gallery, Santa Monica. © Malcolm Lubliner

Sam Francis (1923–1994) was born in San Mateo, California, and attended the University of California, Berkeley, where he received his master’s degree in 1950. He lived primarily in Paris throughout the 1950s and rose to prominence as one of the leading abstract expressionist painters, known particularly for his vibrant use of contrasting colors. He moved back to California in the 1960s, where he settled in Santa Monica but traveled frequently to Japan. Inspired by Eastern philosophy, Francis continued to paint introspective large-scale murals and canvases, many of which leave expanses of the canvas untouched.

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  • Video: Excerpt from the film 'The Painter Sam Francis'

    Video: Excerpt from the film The Painter Sam Francis, produced and directed by Jeffrey Perkins. ©2008 Body and Soul Productions, All Rights Reserved

  • Sam Francis in his studio

    Sam Francis in his studio on West Channel Road in Santa Monica, California, 1968. Photo by Frank J. Thomas. Image courtesy of the Sam Francis Foundation, California