Born in San Mateo in 1923, Francis served in the air force during World War II before studying art at the University of California, Berkeley. Initially influenced by the Expressionist works of Rothko and Clyfford Still, he became known for his own exuberant use of colour after moving to Paris in 1950.
Whilst living in Europe, Francis found fame through close involvement with the French Expressionist Taschisme movement and Art Informel. Inspired by his later experience of Japanese art and philosophy, he produced an iconic series of paintings: his planes of vivid colour now framing the bare white canvas, exploring the relationship between empty space, light and colour.
The artist died in Santa Monica, in 1994.