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Sam Francis papers, 1916-2010 (bulk 1950-1994)

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Francis (Sam) Papers

Scope and Content of Collection

The Sam Francis papers span the artist's entire life and include family and personal material as well as correspondence with friends and art institutions around the world. Francis' art-related businesses, the Litho Shop and Lapis Press, are well documented. There are also numerous prints, products, and art making tools.

Series I includes correspondence with artists, curators and dealers, including Joan Mitchell, Bruce Conner, Pontus Hulten, and Martha Jackson. There are also letters between Francis and his parents and between Francis and each of his wives. Series II. Personal includes family photographs of his parents and stepmother, as well as documents and manuscripts belonging to them. There are photographs of Francis at every stage of his life, as well as numerous photographs of his wives and four children. There is also some audiovisual documentation of Francis' family, including a video tape by fourth wife Mako Idemitsu, now an important video artist, of the two sons she had with Francis.

Series III. Lapis Press documents the projects, both realized and unrealized, that engaged the press, including manuscripts for books of poetry, philosophy, biography and fiction. Awards and reviews, business files, and a selection of unique proofs and paste-ups are included in this series.

Series IV. Business files includes a range of projects Francis worked on that are not included in Lapis Press files, such as printing projects for the Litho Shop, the performance piece Single Wing Turquoise Bird, Francis' design for Swatch watches, and the Jeffrey Perkins documentary, The Painter Sam Francis. There are financial papers and ledgers from intermittent years. The Sam Francis Estate has added to this series posthumous material particularly related to the Catalog Raisonnee.

Series V concerns Francis's involvement in Jungian philosophy and particularly James Kirsch, one of whose books was published by Lapis Press. Series VII is a small collection of Artist files, including manuscripts and films.

Series VI. Printed matter comprises a very comprehensive collection of announcements, brochures, and posters from Francis' exhibitions, while Series VIII. Artwork includes transparencies of etchings, paintings and lithographs, numerous exhibition installation shots, products Francis designed, and tools he employed in his artmaking.


The papers are arranged in eight series:
Series I. Correspondence, 1937-2008;
Series II. Personal, 1916-2000;
Series III. Lapis Press, 1943-2002;
Series IV. Business files, 1960-2008;
Series V. Jung Institute, 1931-1997;
Series VI. Printed matter, 1950-2010;
Series VII. Artist files, 1960-2002;
Series VIII. Artwork, 1955-2003;

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