Sam Francis Biography

Sam Francis





Samuel L. Francis, internationally recognized painter, muralist, and printmaker, was born in San Mateo, California, on June 25, 1923. After entering the University of California in Berkeley in 1941 he began studying botany, but soon changed to psychology and medicine. From 1943 to 1945 he served in World War II, where he suffered a severe spine injury. During a long period of convalescence, he studied painting with David Park and, in 1948, he was able to resume studies at UC Berkeley, earning his bachelor of arts degree in 1949 and his masters of arts degree in 1950.

Francis lived in Paris between 1950 and 1957, where he attended the Académie Léger and his first solo show was mounted in 1952 at the Galerie du Dragon. His first museum exhibition was in 1955 at the Kunsthalle in Bern and the following year his paintings were included in the important exhibition "Twelve Americans" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

In 1959 Francis moved to New York where he created his first lithographs at Universal Art Editions. He moved to Santa Monica, California in 1962 and that same year he won the Grand Prize at the Third International Biennial Exhibition of Prints in Tokyo. His star kept ascending and his work was included in numerous international exhibitions and, in 1967, his first major retrospective was held at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. In 1970 he founded the Litho Shop, Inc. in Santa Monica for production of his own editions and the following year he made prints at Gemini G.E.L. in Los Angeles. Francis created his first intaglio prints in 1973 and began making monotypes in 1975 with Garner Tullis at the Institute for Experimental Printmaking in San Francisco.

Francis was commissioned to paint murals for the Seattle First National Bank, the Federal Building United States Courthouse in Anchorage, the United International Terminal at the San Francisco Airport, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. His work is represented in numerous museum collections internationally and Sam Francis was such a prolific artist that there are several published monographs on his artistic output.

Sam Francis died in Santa Monica, California on November 11, 1994.