LACMA “Sam Francis and Japan: Emptiness Overflowing” April 9 – July 16, 2023

(Los Angeles-January 30, 2023) The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) presents Sam Francis and Japan: Emptiness Overflowing, the first exhibition to explore the practice of American artist Sam Francis (1923-1994) in relation to historic and contemporary Japanese art and aesthetics. Presenting works by Francis alongside Japanese art, both pre-modern and contemporary, the exhibition introduces a new way of looking at the artist’s work that emphasizes his aesthetic sense and his intellectual exchange with artists in Japan.

Comprising over 80 works largely from LACMA’s collection, Sam Francis and Japan includes landmark paintings and prints by Francis such as Towards Disappearance (1957-58) and Meteorite (1986) as well as a number of works from the museum’s Prints and Drawings and Japanese Art departments that will be on public view for the first time. Juxtapositions of works by Francis and historic Japanese works illustrate the pictorial and philosophical affinities they share, particularly the Japanese concept of “ma,” the dynamic between form and non-form. The exhibition also presents works by contemporary Japanese artists whom Francis knew from his extensive time in Japan, including many associated with the Gutai and Mono-Ha artist movements of the 1950s and ’60s. Archival material lent by the Sam Francis Foundation and the Getty Research Institute accompany the artworks.

Sam Francis and Japan was curated by Hollis Goodall, curator of Japanese Art at LACMA; Leslie Jones, curator of Prints and Drawings at LACMA; and Richard Speer, independent scholar and curator.

“It’s exciting to share this groundbreaking look at Sam Francis in L.A., where he lived and worked for many years,” said Michael Govan, LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director. “Like Sam, LACMA and Los Angeles have deep connections to East Asia, and this exhibition highlights the beauty and possibility in a lifetime of artistic exchange.”

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