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Life Arts

Keep Your Friends Close: Seven Fairly Old Sam Francis Paintings

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I took an art survey course in college in the early 1960's, but none of it got to me, probably because the course spent about thirty minutes on post-19th Century Art. And a good twenty years passed afterwards before I found a book of Magritte paintings upstairs at Cody's in Berkeley which was so satisfying I didn't look at non-Surrealist art for about 25 years. Then around 2003, I started looking at Christies and Sotheby's auctions online, making slide-shows and backgrounds out of the art I liked, and after a brief affair with Fauvism, I got wiped out by Abstract Expressionism. It was then that I made friends with Sam Francis' art.

I'd been living in and around the San Francisco Bay area since 1963, and I remember thinking "Sam probably named himself after the place where he made most of his art." I still don't know if that's true, but of course, whether it's true only matters like whether art is true matters.  

There's an old Italian Mob saying: Keep Your Friends Close, and Keep Your Enemies Closer. I've always thought of Sam Francis as a close friend:

Sam Francis in 1983, by Artnet Magazine and Courtesy of Timothy Yarger

There follow seven abstract expressionist paintings by the immortal Sam Francis, non-geometrical in the style which originally appealed to me and which to this day I think of as the "Sam Francis style."


Art For Thirteen (1989), by Artnet Magazine and Courtesy of Zane Bennet

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SF85 494 (1985), by Artnet Magazine and Courtesy of American Contemporary

SF89 121 (1989), by Artnet Magazine and Courtesy of Galeria Koch

SF 273 (1986), by Artnet Magazine and Courtesy of Michael Lisi

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Untitled (1964), by Artnet Magazine and Courtesy of Leslie Sachs

Untitled (1967), by Artnet Magazine and Courtesy of Vincent Vallerino

Untitled (1987), by Artnet Online and Courtesy of Taglialatella Galleries



I have a law degree (Stanford, 66') but have never practiced. Instead, from 1967 through 1977, I tried to contribute to the revolution in America. As unsuccessful as everyone else over that decade, in 1978 I went to work for the U.S. Forest (more...)

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