Sam Francis (born in San Mateo, 25 June 1923 – died in Santa Monica, 4 November 1994) was an American painter who only really started painting after 1950 and as such was categorised as an abstract expressionist painter by Clement Greenberg. After an accident during military exercises he was forced to live with a corset and spent years looking for a way to be healed. He started painting during the many months spent recuperating in bed in the hospital (1944); according to his own words: he started painting to heal himself. He started following painting lessons at the University of California in Berkeley in 1947.
Sam Francis felt a close bond with European art, in contrast to other American abstract expressionists, and to that end stayed in Pairs from 1950-1957. He was greatly attracted to Monet’s water lilies and Matisse and Bonnard’s art in particular; all three colourists. Sam Francis can also be typified as an abstract colourist.
He started practising a form of painting in the 1950’s in which he sprinkled the entire canvas or paper with bright splashes of colour or strokes of paint. He approached colour from a meditative and spiritual perspective and he considered the white spaces between the splashes and marks very important. In later years he would often visit the East, including Japan, The Museum Jan van der Togt in Amstelveen possesses a large and varied collection of his work, acquired by the previous owner of the Tomadofabrieken and donated to the museum.