Happy Death Stone (Lembark, L-10, p.58), 1960


Lithograph on BFK Rives paper with deckled edges

24.80 x 35.60 in

63.0 x 90.4 cm

Edition of 90

Pencil signed and numbered on lower recto (front). Accompanied by original gallery, museum and US government collections labels.


About The Work

This impressive 1960 Sam Francis work with the oxymoronic title Happy Death Stone, has exceptional provenance. It was originally framed, but has been removed from the vintage frame with glass, as they were not in accordance with contemporary conservation standards. However, the back board with labels that tell a fascinating story has been preserved. These labels show, for example, that at one point this very work was hanging in the Situation Room of the Executive Office Building at the White House in Washington, D.C.

If the work is re-framed, the original backboard can be placed on the new back to preserve provenance. 

This work is accompanied by labels from David Anderson, the Anderson Gallery at the University of Buffalo and the Martha Jackson Gallery–one of the most prestigious New York galleries of the 1960s who represented many top Ab Ex artists from her Upper East Side Gallery. After Jackson passed away, her son David Anderson took over the gallery. He opened up the Anderson Gallery from their native Buffalo, New York, and eventually bequeathed it to the University of Buffalo. The work also bears the prestigious Albright Knox Gallery label. And, it also bears a label from the National Collection of Fine Arts (Smithsonian Institution).

Perhaps the most fascinating and curious part of the provenance is that as part of the loan of this work to the US government, it was apparently exhibited in the original White House situation room. A handwritten label reads: Dave McManis, Situation Room White House, Deliver to EOB. In the 1960s, David Y. McManis was a National Intelligence Offer with the Central Intelligence Agency. The notation "Deliver to EOB" refers to the Executive Office Building.

Courtesy of Alpha 137 Gallery

About Sam Francis

From The Magazine

  • Catalogue Raisonne Reference: Connie W. Lembark, The Prints of Sam Francis: A Catalogue Raisonne 1960-1990', 1992, New York, Hudson Hills Press, Volume I, p.58, (illustrated. L.10). Labels on the back board from: Anderson Gallery - Martha Jackson Place University of Buffalo Albright Knox Gallery National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution Martha Jackson Gallery

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