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Abstract painting of deep purple, red and black inky lines on white cover, THE SPACE OF EFFUSION Sam Francis in Japan in red font to centre left.

The Space of Effusion

Sam Francis in Japan

By (author) Richard Speer
Edited by Debra Burchett-Lee


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  • Sam Francis is one of the most distinguished American artists and one of the most significant protagonists of Abstract Expressionism in painting and this is the first book ever to explore his deep involvement with Japan and Japanese culture
  • Features Sam Francis's own aphoristic essay One Ocean One Cup (1977) that reveals the artist's reactions to living and working in the transcendental Japanese environment
  • Published in cooperation with the Sam Francis Foundation in Pasadena, CA
Full Description
One of the world’s preeminent Abstract Expressionists, California-born painter Sam Francis (1923-1994) first travelled to Japan in 1957, quickly established studios and residences there, and became active in a circle of avant-garde artists, writers, filmmakers, architects, and composers, including members of the nascent Gutai and Mono-ha movements. This book chronicles those connections, as well as his complex and evolving relationship with East Asian aesthetics from the 1950s through the 1990s. From the very first exhibitions Francis had in Tokyo, critics linked his evocative use of negative space with the Japanese concept of “ma”, a symbolically rich interval between objects or ideas. This shared pictorial and philosophical syntax laid the foundation for a feedback loop of mutual influence that spurred frequent collaborations between the artist and his Japanese contemporaries, extending into the realms of printmaking, ceramics, music, poetry, publishing, and performance. Written by art critic and curator Richard Speer, with a foreword by Debra Burchett-Lere, executive director/president of the Sam Francis Foundation, this is the first full-length monograph to explore an important but sometimes overlooked milieu in Post-World War II art—a dialogue between Eastern and Western sensibilities that prefigured our current era of global interconnectedness and cross-cultural exchange. Lavishly illustrated with colour plates and archival images, it is an adjunct publication for the related exhibition “Sam Francis and Japan: Emptiness Overflowing” (Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2021), co-curated by Speer.
About the Author
Richard Speer is a critic, author, and curator based in Portland, OR. He is co-curator of the landmark exhibition Sam Francis and Japan: Emptiness Overflowing at LACMA, Los Angeles (October 2020 to January 2021).
Scheidegger & Spiess
18th Jun 2020
Paperback / softback
World excluding Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Puerto Rico, United States, Canada, and Japan
300 mm x 240 mm
224 Pages
140 color, 50 b&w
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