PRINT February 1973

Sam Francis: From Field to Arabesque

SAM FRANCIS’ POSITION ON A generational basis is complex. On one hand, he was born in 1923, which places him with the second generation of artists, like Raymond Parker born in 1922, Ellsworth Kelly, 1923, Kenneth Noland, 1924, and Helen Frankenthaler, 1928. On the other hand, his mature style was achieved by 1950, which is to say he was close behind Rothko, whose vertical stacks of big rectangles did not coalesce out of smaller, subdivided forms until 1949. Frankenthaler’s much-cited Mountains and Sea was painted early, also, in 1952. The fact that Francis and Frankenthaler were early starters, whereas the Abstract Expressionists were late starters, puts the two generations, one born 1903–1915, the other in the ’20s, close in the chronological record, but they should not be confused as Robert T. Buck, Jr. does in the catalogue of Sam Francis 1947–19721. One reason for this is Francis’

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