Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Sam Francis Exhibition: Minimalist Abstract Art In Sacramento

Image courtesy of MasterworksFineArt.com

Recently, I went to the Sam Francis exhibition at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento. Sam Francis is an abstract expressionist painter who was most active around 1950-80. He served in the Air Force during WWII. He was injured and hospitalized for several years before he was visited by David Park who inspired Francis to begin painting.
Image courtesy of SamFrancisFoundation.com

When I first went to see Sam Francis' exhibition, I wasn't expecting much. I'm generally not very fond of abstract art: I prefer to see the technique and artistry of art genres such as Classical, Neoclassical, Raphaelite , Baroque, or Realist. I must say that I was enchanted by Francis' work. Most of the paintings that I saw in the exhibition were from around the mid-60s to 70s. The art consisted of strong colours, separated by large white areas.

The installation was a nice one, in my opinion. The white walls and open spaces reflected the feel of the paintings. The furnishing was also simple and non-obtrusive. The paintings were mostly arranged to have one painting set next to another, with some space in between.  Some of the smaller, square paintings were 'stacked' one on top of the other. As a whole, the paintings were arranged similar to the manner in which they were composed: splashes of colour and design separated by expanses of white space, which emphasized and drew attention to the focus of the piece.

The space that was used to display the paintings was sufficiently large to avoid a cramped, claustrophobic feeling. The pieces had the necessary room so that you didn't feel like you had a sensory overload. The organization of the rooms divided the pieces into the different styles that Francis used over time.

Overall, I feel that the exhibition was well laid-out: it maintained the feel of the abstract paintings and imitated the composition style. I think that 'copying' Francis' art in the design of the exhibition was the best way to emphasize his work. I also think that the paintings themselves were very nice.

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