Sam Francis was initially influenced by the work of abstract expressionists such as Mark Rothko. He spent the 1950s in Paris, where he became associated with Tachisme. Between 1950 and 1958 Francis spent time and painted in Paris, the south of France, Tokyo, Mexico City, Bern and New York. His artistic development was affected by his exposure to French modern painting, Asian culture and Zen Buddhism in particular. His paintings of the 1950s evolved through a series of stages, beginning with monochromatic abstractions, followed by larger richly-colored murals and "open" paintings that feature large areas of whiteness. After his 1953 painting "Big Red" was included in the 1956 exhibition "Twelve Artists" at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Francis began a rapid rise to international prominence. Francis painted large murals for the Kunsthalle, Basel in 1956-58 and for the Chase Manhattan Bank, New York in 1959. Francis returned to California during the 1960s and continued painting, mainly in Los Angeles, but also in Tokyo where he lived primarily in 1973-74. Francis' works of the early 1970s have been referred to as Fresh Air pictures. Created by adding pools, drips and splatters of color to wet bands of paint applied with a roller, these works re-asserted the artist's interest in color. He was also extremely active as a printmaker, creating numerous etchings, lithographs and monotypes, many of which were executed in Santa Monica at the Litho Shop, which Francis owned.
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