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Born in Northern California in 1923, Sam Francis briefly attended the University of California at Berkeley before leaving to join the Army Air Corps in 1943. While in military service, he suffered injuries that led to spinal tuberculosis, requiring a long recuperation. During this period, he began to paint. In the late 1940s, Francis began to study at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) and to work with fellow painter, David Parks. A short time later, he returned to UC Berkeley to study both painting and art history, eventually earning bachelor's and master's degrees. The artist's desire to explore his art led him to Paris in the early '50s, and it was here that his professional career as an artist truly began. Soon after arriving in Europe, he began to travel extensively, living working and exhibiting in Paris, Tokyo, Switzerland and eventually, the United States. In 1962, Francis settled in Southern California.