Francesca Sundsten

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Francesca Sundsten
Born 1960
Hemet, California,
United States
Nationality American
Known for Painting
Movement Contemporary American realism
  • Artists Trust GAP Grant 1993
  • Washington State Arts Commission Fellowship 1989
  • San Francisco Foundation, Adalain Cadogan Award 1988
  • Ellie and John Stern Fellowship Fund in Art 1987
  • Spring Show Award (drawing), San Francisco Art Institute 1985
  • Printmaking Purchase Award, San Francisco Art Institute

Francesca Sundsten (born 1960) is a contemporary American artist. She applies traditional techniques while exploring elements of composition, palette, and minor abstractions of space and paint to create paintings and illustrations which were described by the Seattle Times as "calling to mind the Old Masters" with a "distinctly surrealist sensibility." [1][2]

Born in Hemet, California, Sundsten's family moved to the Seattle area when she was three. She began painting seriously in her early 20s, and enrolled at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1984. Sundsten's interest was in representational painting, a style which was discouraged in her undergraduate program, and after seeing an Odd Nedrum exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, she traveled to Oslo to study with him. She returned to the Art Institute following her informal internship, where she spent the following two years "defending the unpopular direction," and was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1987. In 1990, she received a Master of Fine Arts degree from Stanford University.[3][4]

Sundsten has had solo exhibitions at the Grover/Thurston Galleries, Davidson Galleries, Linda Warren Gallery, Diane Nelson Fine Art, Olga Dollar Gallery, and Parker/Zinc Gallery, and her work is in the permanent collections of the Tacoma Art Museum, Microsoft, and the University of Washington Medical Center. In a review of Sundsten's 2003 exhibit of drawings and paintings at the Davidson Galleries, The Seattle Post Intelligencer wrote that "Sundsten's fine painting and mastery of realism hides nothing in haze. Her quirky, starkly conrontational imagery doesn't disturb as much as it questions. The characters hang in confused naivete, pondering, 'How did I get here?'"[5] Of her 2013 exhibit Creatures at the Grover/Thurston Galleries, art critic Michael Upchurch wrote: "Throughout “Creatures,” Sundsten’s dazzling painterly facility makes her fantastical subjects feel preposterously plausible."[6]

Sundsten has taught at Stanford University, the Pratt Institute, and Cornish College of the Arts.[4]

Sundsten, who played bass for the art-punk Seattle band The Beakers, is married to drummer Bill Rieflin, who performed with KMFDM, among others. Her artwork appears on the cover of their album Nihil.[7][8]


  1. ^ Upchurch, Michael (8 September 2011). "Bodies sprout drawers, antlers, more at Seattle galleries". Seattle Times. Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  2. ^ Hall, Emily (September 25, 2003). "Long 'n' Lovely". The Stranger. Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  3. ^ Schoenkopf, Rebecca (June 1, 2000). "The Shock of the Bourgeois". OC Weekly. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  4. ^ a b "Francesca Sundsten: Portraiture". ArtNet. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  5. ^ Wagonfeld, Jody (11 September 2003). "Sundsten's eerie physical mutations tell their own tales". Seattle Post Intelligencer. Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  6. ^ Upchurch, Michael (July 19, 2013). "Strange 'Creatures' roam through Francesca Sundsten's paintings". Seattle Times. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  7. ^ "Francesca Sundsten". The Stranger. 6 October 2011. Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  8. ^ "Francesca Sundsten Credits". All Music Guide. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 

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