Sam Francis was born in 1923 in San Mateo, California. From 1941-1943, he attended the University of California in Berkeley and then joined the Air Force.
In 1945, hospitalized in San Francisco after an injury, he began painting under the influence of David Park. He had already developed an abstract style before returning to Berkeley for formal art studies from 1949-1950. In school, Francis developed the propensity for vivid blots of color and thinned pigments.
In the 1950’s, Francis traveled extensively, with Paris as his base.
His 1956 painting collection titled, “Twelve Americans,” exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, which gained him notoriety.
Japanese influence is seen in Francis’ early 1960’s experimentation with empty-center painting. Vast canvases with unpainted central areas are defined, accented, or dominated by strokes and drips in bold colors around the extremities of the canvas.
From the 1970’s on, Francis returned to centered painting in which color puddles out in a galaxy effect on monumental canvases. During the final three decades of his career, his style of large-scale bright abstract expressionism was also closely associated with color field painting.
Sam Francis passed away in 1994 in Marin County, California.