Santa Monica College recently announced that Martin Sosin has donated 18 original Sam Francis prints to the college. The prints are currently hanging in the campus Library.
“The pieces are beautiful and they make the Library a more lively place,” said Mona Martin, dean of learning resources and head librarian. “We’re extremely grateful for the generosity of Mr. Sosin.”
Some of the prints will be moved to The Madison Project of Santa Monica College, a 541-seat theater currently under construction, when it opens in 2007.
Sosin, a Santa Monica tax attorney, was the business manager and close friend of Francis, the renowned abstract painter who created much of his work in Santa Monica, between 1962 and his death in 1994.
In 2003, SMC presented the first public showing of a collection of Francis paintings from the private collections of Sosin and members of his family.
“I had always promised Sam Francis I would do everything in my power to expand his legacy as an abstract expressionist,” Sosin said. “The Library gives his work wide exposure. And I wanted to commemorate that marvelous Library, to show that SMC is a premiere place to go to school.”
Associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement and Clement Greenberg’s post-painterly abstraction, Francis was also influenced by French painting and Japanese art.
With its sensitivity to sensuous color and light, Francis’ early work was not unlike the organic forms of Jackson Pollock and Clyfford Still and the atmospheric color veils of Mark Rothko. His use of space on the canvas to allow free circulation of strong color and the sensitivity to light distinguished his work and made him a singular American artist.
A California native, Francis was born in San Mateo in 1923 and died in Santa Monica in 1994. He began to paint in 1944 and studied art first under David Park in 1947 and then at the University of California at Berkeley, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Over the years, Francis worked for long periods of time in studios in Paris, New York and Tokyo while traveling back and forth to his primary residences in Santa Monica, Palo Alto and Point Reyes.
His works are in many public and private collections throughout the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and the Idemitsu Museum of Art in Tokyo.The Madison Project will feature both student work and professional engagements in music, theater, dance, and more. The $30.78 million center, designed by Zecchetto Architects of Santa Monica, is funded with a combination of public and private funds.