A legendary American abstract painter who broke all the rules in his personal and artistic life

About Light on Fire

A groundbreaking biography of one of the celebrated artists of the 20th century, and the American painter who brought the vocabulary of abstract expressionism to Paris. Drawing on exclusive interviews and private correspondence, Gabrielle Selz traces the complex life of a magnetic, globe-trotting artist, who learned to paint while encased in a full-body cast. An intimate portrait of a mesmerizing character, a man who sought to resolve in art the contradictions he couldn’t resolve in life.

About the Author

Gabrielle Selz is an award-winning author. Her books include the first comprehensive biography of Sam Francis, Light on Fire, and the memoir, UnStill Life. Her articles have appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times.


Gabrielle Selz Author Photo

Praise for Gabrielle

“Life inspires art inspires life— all of which inspire Gabrielle Selz’s sparkling memoir of her brilliant but chaotic family.
In Unstill Life, the art and
people ricochet off each other, wreaking havoc but also encouraging everyone to live more intense, artistic li

—Charlotte Rogan, author of The Lifeboat

“One of the season’s page-tuners: Selz’s reminiscences of coming of age amidst an explosion of creativity and social change are clear-eyed, sympathetic—and sometimes heartbreaking.”

—Art News


“A beautiful, compelling memoir, a testament to art, to love, to life and all its losses and joys.”

—Frederic Tuten, author of Self Portraits

Unstill Life is a page-turner, not just because of its unique point of view, but also because Gabrielle Selz is a skilled writer who knows how to keep things moving. There are more than enough great anecdotes about art world notables to carry the book, but just the narrative of Gabrielle’s own finding her way is beautifully told and compelling…”

—John Seed, Hyperallergic

“Gabrielle Selz has a flair for the apt anecdote, and her father ensured to her chagrin that she never ran out of stories... Her evocation of her father’s long life explores the bittersweet intersection of modern art and modern family, and the collateral damage of the revolution.”

—David D’Arcy, San Francisco Chronicle

“In one of the Summer’s Buzziest Beach Reads thoughtfully evokes life in the shadows of her larger-than-life curator father, Peter Selz.”

Vogue Magazine





Luminous and revealing, a daughter's memoir of the art world and a larger than life father.

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Gabrielle Selz

Featured Article

Learning to Love a Stepmother Through the Language of Flowers

The New York Times (2021)