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Sam Francis (1923-1994)

Sam Francis.png

La Primavera (Spring), 1988; Etching and aquatint in colors on Fabriano paper; signed in pencil and numbered VII/X; Blindstamps of the publisher/printer, 2RC Edizioni d'Arte/Vigna Antoniniana Stamperia d'Arte, Rome; Size - 46 x 95", Frame 57 x 106"; Catalog Raisonne: Lembark I.98, SFE-070RC;  Framed with a white high gloss wood frame, linen liner and UV plexiglass.

"I prefer to think of colours in relationships to each other, rather than just one colour at a time." - Sam Francis

Sam Francis (1923-1994) was an American painter and printmaker, most known for his large scale works indicative of abstract expressionism action painting. Francis took up painting in 1944 as a result of a spinal injury that he incurred during the Second World War. He gave up his studies of Botany, Medicine and Psychology and instead went to study art at the University of California, Berkley where he earned a BA and MA. He would then travel and paint for years in Paris, south of France, Tokyo, Mexico City, Bern, and New York. Francis's work, although referencing abstract expressionism, is very much associated with his California environment as related to space, color, and light. He developed a style that involved the use of multifaceted brushwork, often dominated by cell-like dripping forms.


His work hangs in the world's greatest museums including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The Norton Simon Museum, The Kunstmuseum, Idemitsu Museum of Arts, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Centre Pompidou-Musee National d'Art Moderne. 


In the 1980's Sam Francis partnered with Valter and Eleonora Rossi of the Italian print workshop 2RC. The Rossis had just moved to New York City and wanted to continue their work printing very large scale intaglio prints. An intaglio print is made on a copper plate and utilizes aquatint that involves the application of a fine layer of resin dust that is evenly applied to the surface of the plate. It is then heated so that each particle crystallizes and is firmly adhered. Francis would then paint, with a sugar lift solution, the plate. The finished image was dipped into an acid bath and areas where the plate was exposed, ie not painted, was bitten by the acid. The resulting etched patterns could now hold ink and members of the printing company, working very quickly so that the ink would not dry, would work ink into the large plate. The entire plate was then covered with a sheet of dampened paper and run through the press under pressure in order to pull an impression. For the Francis prints, the final image is composed of overprinting of four different plates, printed in ten color and run through the press four times. The result is an extraordinary technical achievement and resulted in the suite of four large scale prints collectively titled "The Five Seasons." Each of the four prints was composed from the same set of plates, but inked in different color combinations. The four prints in the suite are: La Primavera, La Primavera Fredda, La Notte, and Pioggia d'Oro.

"La Primavera (Spring)," 1988 is an example of Sam Francis at the height of his prowess. The framed work is an impressive 57 x 106 inches and is one of the largest intaglio prints ever realized. The structure is a loose latticework of light green cells which overlays a cacophony of splatters and drips of paint whose colors reference the emergence of plants and flowers in a garden. An absolutely stunning work that would be the highlight for any modern art collection!


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