Sam Francis (1923-1995) was born in San Mateo, California and attended the University of California at Berkeley from 1941 to 1943. He studied psychology and pre-med and then went into the Army Air Corps where an air crash caused spinal tuberculosis. Recovering from his injury, he turned to abstract painting and then sought formal art education. In 1949 and 1950, he earned his B.A. and M.A. Degrees from the University of California. Also as a patient at Letterman Hospital, he studied privately with abstract figurative painter David Park.
Francis was an Abstract Expressionist painter known for his dazzling coloration and splotch-like shapes. In the second half of the 20th century Francis became one of the premier modernist artists. First generation Abstract Expressionists Clyfford Styll and Mark Rothko heavily influenced him. Unlike the creations of many of the Abstract Expressionists and the Bay Area Figurative painters, his work was luminous, breezy, and increasingly elegant. Seeking his own approach to abstraction, he spent much of his career in France and other foreign countries.
He passed away on November 4, 1995 at the age of 71.