Sam Francis was an American artist known for his exuberantly colorful, large-scale abstract paintings. His practice incorporated elements from Abstract Expressionism, Color Field painting, Impressionism, and Eastern philosophy to create a unique style of painterly abstraction. Influenced by Jackson Pollock and Clyfford Still, he is more closely associated to the work of Helen Frankenthaler, as he was more interested in the formal arrangement of the picture plane than the expressivity of the individual artist. “Painting is about the beauty of space and the power of containment,” he once reflected. Born on June 25, 1923 in San Mateo, CA, he briefly served in the US Air Force during World War II but was injured during a test flight.
Returning to California, he received his BA and MA from UC Berkeley in botany and psychology before beginning to pursue a career in art. The artist traveled widely during his career, and he was closely aligned with the Art Informel movement while living abroad in Paris during the 1950s. Francis died on November 4, 1994 in Santa Monica, CA at the age of 71. He was a founding trustee of Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art, and his paintings can be found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Kunstmuseum Basel, and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, among others.