Lyre Eight (Lembeck, L.S5)
Born in California, United States in 1923, died in 1994. Francis studied Botany, Psychology and Pharmacy at the University of California, Berkeley. After serving in World War II, he returned to school and received a master's degree in Fine Arts and was awarded an honorary doctorate from his alma mater in 1969. In 1950, Francis studied abroad in Paris, when the abstract expressionists had started to emerge in America and the center of art in the world was just about to move from Paris to New York. He eventually started travelling between the United States, Paris, and Japan, as his main venues for creating and presenting his artworks and maintaining his unshakeable international reputation. He was recognized particularly for establishing the expression of “White Background”, which hardly existed before in Western painting. The unique expression of blank space by Francis is said to be strongly influenced by his encounter with Zen philosophy, as his relationship with Japan was very important both in his private and professional life as an artist. Sazo Idemitsu has supported Francis as a strong patron, and his daughter, Mako Idemitsu, a leading Japanese filmmaker, became his partner in his later years. His son Shingo Francis became an artist as well. Exhibitions of his works have continued in museums around the world even after his death, and many of his works are included in important collections.