Gemini G.E.L.: A Catalogue Raisonné, 1966–2005
Sam Francis was one of the few major abstract painters who made prints as early as the 1950s. His commitment to the graphic media led him to establish a print shop of his own, The Litho Shop, that offered facilities for etching as well as lithography. Nonetheless, he continued to work at Gemini and other workshops until his death in 1994. Francis principally created lithography at Gemini. However, in 1972, he completed an extensive screenprint project that was exemplified by Turn (18.13). Later, in the early 1980s, he executed four aquatint etchings, among them First Subject (18.48).
Francis' prints embrace a vast emotional spectrum that ranges from ebullience to stringent economy; the airy evocations of space such as Always In and Out of Need (18.27) and the images of great density and weight exemplified by Indigo Wood (18.53) are equally representative of his work. The artist's language of form is characterized by intense color areas, splashy transitions, and masses and voids. This complex vocabulary evolves even further as he sensitively handles materials while investigating surfaces and inventing new ways to make marks and structure spaces. Francis' final project at Gemini was a large 36-color Untitled screenprint impression that glowed in intense primaries and buoyant pastels (18.60). Subtlety was achieved by drawing on Mylar overlays that were transferred to multiple screens. This technique deviated from the standard approach whereby the artist draws directly on the screens. Such works illustrate the methods Francis employed, in collaboration with Gemini, to push the screenprint and other media to a level of refinement necessary to carry the essential beauty of his surfaces.
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Art and Technology | The 1960s
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