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The Sam Francis: Online Catalogue Raisonné Project – Fine Art in the New Media

April 18, 2018 by Jack Dziamba. New Post Goes Up Every Wednesday.

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“The Sam Francis Foundation released the first installment of the Sam Francis: Online Catalogue Raisonné Project––The Compilation of Unique Works on Paper and Expanded Version of Canvas and Panel Paintings of the internationally recognized artist on April 18, 2018. “

“This first installment contains 201 entries documenting the currently known unique works on paper and canvas and panel paintings attributed to Sam Francis from 1945 through 1949. The online catalogue raisonné project (SFCR) will ultimately document the entire oeuvre of this extremely prolific artist and will be available to a global audience.” samfrancis.org.

Sam Francis

“Sam Francis (1923 – 1994) occupies a prominent position in post-war American painting. Although associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement and Clement Greenberg’s Post-Painterly Abstraction, unlike many American painters of he time he had direct and prolonged exposure to French painting and to Japanese art which had an individual impact on his work.” samfrancis.com.

Fine Art in the New Media – The Sam Francis: Online Catalogue Raisonné Project

As we wrote in out Purpose Page, the best use of New Media tools  for Fine Art is to create a clean, easy to use interface, with high-quality images , under the viewer’s control, in line with the following objectives:

“1. Fine Art in the new media should be accessible, from the Google Art Project, and the new and dynamic Museum websites for the Louvre, the Metropolitan, the Musée d’Orsay, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Van Gogh Museum, and others so that, “There is [virtually] nothing between me and my Leonardo.”

2. Fine Art in the new media should be interactive.

3. Fine Art in the new media should be viewer directed. “I want to see what I want to see.”

4. Fine Art in the new media should be able to be manipulated, which enables the viewer to use their creativity. to examine, adapt, and experiment with the art.

5. Fine Art in the new media should be comparative , enabling the viewer to array pictures  to study technique, execution, and genre.”

How well does the Sam Francis Online Catalogue Raisonné Project Meet These Objectives?

 The Project – A Dynamic Online Platform Readily Accessible and Searchable
“It is the Foundation’s intention not only to provide a historical record of Francis’s artworks, but also to embrace his creative and innovative spirit by offering a catalogue that can evolve and change as research continues to develop.”
“Although similar to the 2011 guide, the new material (including addenda as relevant) has been reformatted in a dynamic online platform to make it readily accessible and searchable.” samfrancisfoundation.org
While the site itself offers the most comprehensive explanation of its features, a brief review from selected categories ( below,) shows that the Project meets all of the Fine Art in the New Media objectives:  The site is dynamic, viewer directed, able to be grouped according to the viewer’s wishes with numerous filter options, and the user interface is further simplified [enhanced] by a Quick Search function.  Here are the some examples:
The Catalogue Guide Jump quickly to sections below:
Navigation Tools

Catalogue Entries


Francis working in Bern studio, Switzerland, ca.1973. Photo © Kurt Blum.
  • Catalouge Entries

The catalogue entries default view displays artwork thumbnails in order by their catalogue raisonné number, with the canvas and panel paintings preceding the unique works on paper.

To view the full artwork entry click on either the thumbnail image or the title. The artworks can also be sorted by Francis Archive number, date, title, height or width. Select the Filter option to view works by medium, year or the whereabouts unknown category. Whereabouts unknown works are currently in an ongoing research category to determine their present location.

  • Groupings

In addition to allowing browsing by catalogue entry, the online SFCR offers several alternative groupings of the listings. Artworks can be sorted by Public Collections, Exhibitions, or Literature. Explanations of each of those possibilities can be found on the initial page of that option.

Always use the website navigation and printing tools for the best formatting and ease of viewing.

  • Quick Search

The Quick Search box in the upper right is for searching a single section only. The box can be toggled to search through other sections on the site. For more complex searches, however, use the Advanced Search link.

Quick search Catalogue Entries by catalogue number, title, year, or Francis Archive number.

Quick search Public Collections by institution name, city, or state. For countries, use the Filters in this section.

Quick search Exhibitions by year, institution/venue, exhibition title, or city. For countries, use the Filters in this section.

Quick search Literature by author, title, publisher, journal/newspaper name, or year published.

  • Viewing Options

“There are two viewing options to this publication: the Thumbnail SFCR Version (Public Educational Access) and the Expanded SFCR Version (Subscription-based Educational Access). For the initial launch, users will have full access to the Expanded Version until July 1, 2018, after which it will be by subscription only. ”

“For each entry, throughout the thumbnail tombstone information or the expanded version, if a question mark is listed within brackets [?] this designates indeterminate, unknown, or unverified data at the time of publication. It can accompany any text, including date, title, medium, dimensions, inscriptions, or provenance history.”

  • Images

“The source images were resized, color-corrected, and formatted for reproduction in Photoshop. All attempts have been made to reproduce the colors as accurately as possible, using photographic color bars (set at native white point), if available, for the specific illustrations to balance the reproduction quality.”


The Sam Francis: Online Catalogue Raisonné Project is an outstanding example of the use of New Media tools to make art accessible to everyone, everywhere.

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H/T Joshua Cohen

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