Sam Francis

Sam Francis (1923-1994) studied medicine at the University of California at Berkeley before joining the U.S. Army Air Corps. An accident in 1943 forced him to be hospitalized for several years. During his convalescence, he began painting in watercolor. In 1948, he returned to school and completed a Master’s degree in art and art history in 1950. During this time, he was influenced by the work of Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, and Jackson Pollock. Between 1950 and 1957, Francis lived in Paris where he met Joan Mitchell and the Canadian painter Jean-Paul Riopelle. While traveling around the world, Francis was profoundly influenced by the art and culture of Japan. He created asymmetrical paintings during this time. In 1962, Francis returned to California and created his now famous Blue Balls series. In 1967, a retrospective of Francis’ work was held at the Museum of Fine Art, Houston. This was followed by an exhibition at the Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland in 1968 and the Albright-Knox Gallery in 1972.