Cobalt Blue: Writings from the papers of Sam Francis beautifully combines the artist’s writing with his works on paper in an elegantly designed book. This new collection includes writings from Francis’s journals that have never been published before and previous essays from catalogs long out-of-print. The collection ends with extensive excerpts from the interview by distinguished French philosopher Yves Michaud, published in France by Galerie Jean Fournier in 1988. “A Note on This Edition” is provided by the editor, writer and artist Jaime Robles, who ran the letterpress division of the Lapis Press in Santa Monica from the mid to late 1980s. The book is introduced by artist–writer Nancy Mozur, the administrative director and curator of the Litho Shop, Sam Francis’s painting and printmaking atelier, from 1971–1989.
Sam Francis (1923–94) kept journals and diaries during the entire span of his five- decades career as a leading Abstract Expressionist artist famed for his colorful lyricism and dynamic painting. His writings include not only his philosophy of art but also his rich dream life that was the underpinning for his painting. Francis approached art as mediation between divine inspiration and human existence and his writings took the form of aphorisms, poetry, dream memories and prose, each providing insight into his visual art. In the mid-1980s Francis developed the Lapis Press, a publishing entity named after one of his guiding symbols, the philosopher’s stone, or Lapis Philosophorum. The Lapis Press not only published books by other artists, authors, curators, and poets but it allowed Francis to pursue his own love of writing and discover new ways to marry the brilliance of words with the visual. That ethos is reflected in the superb design of Cobalt Blue’s collection of images and text. Along with the text are forty full-color plates with examples of his works on paper from all phases of his career, including a selection of his monotypes produced with innovative techniques and processes that have not been since duplicated. Pages from his journals are reproduced along with portraits of the artist at different stages of his career. The production of Cobalt Blue: Writings from the papers of Sam Francis used a new expanded-gamut technology to create plates with added vibrancy and color density.