Sam Francis (1923-1994)


Born in 1923, Sam Francis originally read psychology and medicine before studying painting under Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still.  He travelled to Europe and stayed in Paris from 1948 until 1950, finally settling in California in 1962.  During the 1960s he developed his own distinctive style of spontaneous and gestural 'dripping' which he was to develop until his death in 1994.

Sam Francis was one of the few major abstract painters who explored the full range of the graphic media and produced prints as early as the 1950s.  His commitment to print making led him to establish a print shop of his own, The Litho Shop, which offered facilities for lithography as well as etching.  The Litho Shop was founded with a lithography press acquired when the Tamarind Workshop relocated from Los Angeles to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1967.  Between 1960 and 1990 he made over 300 lithographs, 200 screenprints and 125 etchings as well as a number of unique experimental and trial proofs.

Experimentation was an integral part of his printmaking process.  Throughout the full range of his graphic work, from the early lithographs right up to the minimal 'edge' prints, it seems that Francis never considered any single image to be an end-point, but just one of a number of possibilities.

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