Sam Francis (1923-1994) was an American painter and printmaker. Born in San Mateo, California, he studied botany, medicine and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. He served in the United States Air Force during World War II before being injured in a plane crash. He was in the hospital for several years, and it was there that he began to paint. Once out of the hospital he returned to Berkeley, this time to study art. Francis was initially influenced by the work of abstract expressionists such as Mark Rothko, Arshile Gorky, and Clyfford Still.
Francis spent some time in Paris executing entirely monochromatic works, but his mature pieces are generally large oil paintings with splashed or splattered areas of bright contrasting color. During the final three decades of his career, his style of large scale bright Abstract Expressionism was also closely associated with Color Field painting. During the last year of his life, suffering from prostate cancer and unable to paint with his right hand after a fall, in a final burst of energy he used his left hand to complete a dazzling series of about 150 small paintings.