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© Sam Francis / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY.

Sam Francis: Lithographs

“I like to wash the stone, but I don’t know what lithography really is,” Sam Francis once admitted. “But perhaps through the stone I may find out who I am and what I am for.” The Abstract Expressionist was an avid printmaker, especially drawn toward the free-flowing nature of lithography. Developing his mastery of the technique through residencies at legendary print shops such as Tamarind Institute, Universal Limited Art Editions, and Gemini G.E.L., Francis—along with fellow post-war artists like Helen Frankenthaler, Robert Motherwell, and Cy Twombly—helped turn this era into a printmaking renaissance. Captivated by the lithography medium in particular, Francis even opened his own workshop in Santa Monica in 1970, The Litho Shop, where he created works that drew from his fascination with Zen Buddhism (emphasizing the void), Jungian psychology (exploring themes from his interior life), and Japanese aesthetics (practicing calligraphic strokes inspired by his time living in Tokyo).

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