A Century of Sam

2023 marks the centennial of Sam Francis (June 25, 1923 – November 4, 1994). We celebrate the 100th anniversary of Francis’s birthday and his continued creative legacy through exhibitions, educational events, special projects, articles, and archival explorations. We invite scholars, colleagues, artists, institutions, and historians to explore their relationship with Francis, his art, his creative legacy, and his inspiration.


One of the twentieth century’s most profound Abstract Expressionists, American artist Sam Francis is noted as one of the first post-World War II painters to develop an international reputation. Francis created thousands of paintings as well as works on paper, prints and monotypes, housed in major museum collections and institutions around the world. Regarded as one of the leading interpreters of color and light, his work holds references to New York abstract expressionism, color field painting, Chinese and Japanese art, French impressionism and his own Bay Area roots.


The foundation is thrilled the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) will open Sam Francis and Japan: Emptiness Overflowing in April 2023. This landmark exhibition reviews five decades of dialogue between Francis and artists, poets, composers, gallerists, and historians in Japan, such as Arata Isozaki, Atsuko Tanaka, Toshi Ichiyanagi and Shuzo Takiguchi.


The Bakersfield Museum of Art will also host The Circle of Sam opening May 2023 exploring the relationships that began through the artist’s studio and continue through his creative legacy.


On Archive Connection we will publish new articles highlighting Francis’s expansive connections. A full calendar of events will be available on our website.


We encourage others to participate in this celebration either by installing work from their collections, posting on social media platforms, or launching any other appropriate tributes. We are acknowledging the 100th year with a custom graphic and hashtag #ACenturyofSam. The foundation is pleased to share these items and imagery if you would like to participate in the celebrations.


“Still Infinity lies before my eyes
Two eyes have I
– one of Eternity
– one of Infinity”
–– Sam Francis, One Ocean One Cup within Cobalt Blue

Throughout the course of the year we will be highlighting new writing and explorations of the expansive creative community Francis participated and fostered. A place to see new connections and archival treasures.

1984 Sam Francis Portrait in studio. Photo Credit: Jim McHugh