San Francisco/Berkeley

Sam Francis

Smith-Anderson Gallery

Sam Francis? He’s different. A very good painter but not a painter’s painter. No cross to bear. How he gets away with it year after year is something (he never gets slick). How can he move with modernist painting all the way from the West Coast (he left the center for the edges and now is back inside the arena again)?

The new paintings (untitled) are on canvas and paper; the small ones (Mandalas) on paper have rectangular solids smack in the center, emphasizing the shape of the paper. They are simple—the best in the show. Francis continues the wide water swatches with those impossible colors bleeding all over and splashes and staining. Still, who can help but think of Monet? (Nostalgia: the solitary painter painting out his dream.) It’s perfect painting for reading in all those formal goodies or just nibbling on the bonbons; it’s heavy or light weight, whatever you prefer. It’s clean, but

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