Light on Fire: The Art and Life of Sam Francis (Hardcover)

Light on Fire: The Art and Life of Sam Francis By Gabrielle Selz Cover Image
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Description


The first in-depth biography of Sam Francis, the legendary American abstract painter who broke all the rules in his personal and artistic life.

Light on Fire is the first comprehensive biography of Sam Francis, one of the most important American abstract artists of the twentieth century. Based on Gabrielle Selz’s unprecedented access to Francis’s files, as well as private correspondence and hundreds of interviews, this book traces the extraordinary and ultimately tragic journey of a complex and charismatic artist who first learned to paint as a former air-corps pilot encased for three years in a full-body cast. While still a young man, Francis saw his color-saturated paintings fetch the highest prices of any living artist. His restless desire resulted in five marriages and homes on three continents; his entrepreneurial spirit led to founding a museum, a publishing company, a reforestation program and several nonprofits. Light on Fire captures the art, life, personality, and talent of a man whom the art historian and museum director William C. Agee described as a rare artist participating in the “visionary reconstruction of art history,” defying creative boundaries among the likes of Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning. With settings from World War II San Francisco to postwar Paris, New York, Tokyo, and Los Angeles, Selz crafts an intimate portrait of a man who sought to resolve in art the contradictions he couldn’t resolve in life.

About the Author


Gabrielle Selz is the award-winning author of Unstill Life: A Daughter’s Memoir of Art and Love in the Age of Abstraction. Her articles have appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times.

Praise For…


"Quality research supplies a dramatis personae that's a hit list of 20th-century art giants. . . . An engaging read, avoiding hagiography. This biography of a mercurial rogue has something to amuse or annoy most aficionados." 
— Library Journal

"Selz’s engaging book gamely takes readers along for the ride as Francis hops between countries, lovers, and commissions, eternally courting the change and drama that fueled his work. . . . Selz manages to capture the expansive, unwieldy story of Francis — a vivacious, ego-absorbed searcher — in both his intimate and larger-than-life moments."


— Hyperallergic

"Selz's writing achieves a depth of feeling, marked sympathy, and a grasp of the man as well as the myth, with an insider's knowledge of his gigantic, imperfect life. Elegant and precise, her writing paints a captivating portrait of this complex artist."
— East Hampton Star

“Selz’s engaging book gamely takes readers along for the ride as Francis hops between countries, lovers, and commissions, eternally courting the change and drama that fueled his work. . . . Selz manages to capture the expansive, unwieldy story of Francis—a vivacious, ego-absorbed searcher—in both his intimate and larger-than-life moments.”
— Hyperallergic

"The first full biography of the artist, its existence is more than justified by the remarkable facts and dramatic episodes of Francis’s life. . . . Selz? . . . succeeds at maintaining a scholarly distance, casting Francis as a highly imperfect if charismatic and larger-than-life character."
— Leonardo

"Gabrielle Selz’s accomplished biography of American abstract artist Sam Francis, Light on Fire, investigates the artist-muse relationship . . .  obliquely . . . but with no less nuance. . . . Selz uses the case study of one 'genius' artist to deconstruct the very concept of artistic genius, at the core of which lies total emotional impotence. That emotional impotence, of course, wreaks havoc in their lives."
— Los Angeles Review of Books

"About a quarter of the way into Gabrielle Selz’s Light on Fire: The Art and Life of San Francis, I found myself thinking: this book should be a movie. . . . Light on Fire delivers a riveting portrait of a man driven (and riven) by huge appetites: for painting, women, fame, family, philanthropy and, most of all, a desire to pierce the veil separating life and death. . . .The book unfolds like a page-turner.”
 
— Square Cylinder

“About a quarter of the way into Gabrielle Selz’s Light on Fire: The Art and Life of San Francis, I found myself thinking: this book should be a movie. . . . Light on Fire delivers a riveting portrait of a man driven (and riven) by huge appetites: for painting, women, fame, family, philanthropy and, most of all, a desire to pierce the veil separating life and death. . . . The book unfolds like a page-turner.”


— Square Cylinder

 "A comprehensive look into the life and work of a complex artist who played an important role in the history of American art."
— CHOICE
Product Details
ISBN: 9780520310711
ISBN-10: 0520310713
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication Date: October 19th, 2021
Pages: 392
Language: English