Artist biography

Sam Francis born 1923 [- 1994]

American Abstract Expressionist painter in oil and watercolour, and lithographer. Born in San Mateo, California. Studied psychology and medicine at the University of California at Berkeley 1941-3, then served 1943-5 in the US Army Air Corps. Began to paint in 1944 after a plane crash, while in hospital recovering from a spine injury. Received instruction from David Park and in 1948-50 returned to the University of California to study art. Started to paint abstract pictures influenced by Still, Rothko and Gorky. Moved in 1950 to Paris, where he had his first one-man exhibition at the Galerie du Dragon 1952. Painted almost entirely in monochrome for several years, then began to use contrasting colours. In 1957 made his first journey around the world, including two months in Japan where he executed a large mural. Has since travelled widely, with studios in Paris, Bern, New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo. Painted large murals for the Kunsthalle, Basle, 1956-8, the Chase Manhattan Bank, New York, 1959, but in the 1960s worked mainly in watercolour and made a number of lithographs. Many of his later works include large expanses of white.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.224-5