Samuel Lewis Francis was born in 1923, in San Mateo, California. He began painting in 1944 during a convalescence following an accident the artist had while enrolled in The U.S. Army Air Corps. Francis decided to progress in this new passion and soon abandoned his intended medical studies to follow his artistic ambitions, earning a BA in 1949 and an MA in 1950 at the University of California, Berkeley.


Throughout the 1950s, Francis travelled consistently after his move to Paris in 1950. Francis returned to California in 1962 and resumed painting with combinations of bright tonalities. Over the next decades, Francis's style in painting and print production constantly changed and evolved, exploring different combinations of the relationship between shape and colour. Throughout his artistic career, Francis realised several public commissions, held many international exhibitions, and had studios in cities such as Bern, Paris, Los Angeles, and Tokyo.


During the final decades of career, Francis held and supported several projects in publishing and nonprofit organisations. After opening his own lithography studio, in 1975 Francis funded an alternative energy company. In 1980 he contributed to the organisation of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Los Angeles. Ten years later, he founded the Sam Francis Art Museum in 1990 to perpetuate his artistic legacy and support charitable donations.


Today his works are held in many major collections around the world, including: Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Tate, London; and the Whitney Museum, New York.


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