Director’s Letter

Hello from all of us at the Sam Francis Foundation! The SFF board and team send best wishes to our Sam Francis community during this unusual year as it has affected us on a variety of levels. We are fortunate to continue working remotely (thanks to our subscribers and donors) focused on our educational legacy objectives, especially providing updates to the living Sam Francis: Online Catalogue Raisonné Project. Our goal is to keep adding artworks on a weekly basis to offer as much documentation of Francis’s oeuvre through 1994. There are two ways to access the artwork records with an abridged free version and an expanded paid subscription level. The catalogue includes added features with exhibition and literature histories (complete with illustrations) as well as supplementary images of Francis working in the studios over the years.


We are pleased to announce the implementation of new projects including a lavishly illustrated book authored by Portland art curator/critic Richard Speer entitled The Space of Effusion: Sam Francis in Japan, published by Scheidegger & Spiess, Zurich. In addition, author Gabrielle Selz is in the final editing and design phase on the Sam Francis biography to be published by UC Press, (Berkeley, CA) next fall. We will keep you posted on events scheduled, including a Spring 2021 exhibition at LACMA via our Mail Chimp Newsletter.


This year SFF expanded our outreach providing grants to artists (including emergency Covid-relief funds) and aid to other nonprofit organizations. Our website provides more details on the development of exciting collaborative ventures with 18th Streets Art Center, Santa Monica; Art Division, Los Angeles; and Cal Poly University Pomona. Be sure to spend time with new features, especially Archive Connection. Our first essay inspired and developed from materials discovered in Francis’s archival records focuses on the artist Shirley Jaffe, written by Leila Elliott. Please consider submitting essays for this section as our goal is to update this on a regular basis. Francis’s wide-circle-of-friends and colleagues continues to offer expanded documentation as we exchange valuable letters and photos with heirs and other artist-endowed foundations, including new materials gleaned from the Al Held Foundation, the Joan Mitchell Foundation, Kiki Kogelnik Foundation and the Gutai Archives, as well as families of Shirley Jaffe and writer Rachel Jacobs, for example. Associate Director Beth Ann Whittaker and our research team continue to collaborate and visit as many archival institutions, libraries, museums, auction houses, galleries, etc. as Francis’s history is far-reaching.


During this period of uncertainty, as we face so many challenges including the ongoing effects of the pandemic, it sometimes feels like we are “ADRIFT,” so will conclude with one of Francis’s aphorisms for healthful, hopeful, and positive reflection:


Time is always standing still and yet is adrift.
Space is a point and yet adrift in time.
Time is a point and yet adrift in space.
We are drifting (adrift) from here to then in space-time.
Where light and dark unite there is color.
The flash of light in the dark   a line of light
In the abstract dark. A line of light

(from Cobalt Blue: Writings from the papers of Sam Francis, 2019)


Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about Sam Francis or our ongoing projects.

With healthful and hopeful regards –

Debra Burchett-Lere