The Lapis Press was founded in 1984 by artist Sam Francis with the goal of producing unusual and timely texts in visually compelling formats. Published editions comprised poetry, fiction, and essays on contemporary art, philosophy, literature and Jungian psychology. During this time, Lapis also published books created in collaboration with significant contemporary artists. These livres d'artiste employed a variety of media, including lithographs, etchings, and letterpress, printed on specially selected papers, and bound by hand.
After the death of Sam Francis in 1994, The Lapis Press honored his legacy of collaboration by producing a series of etching editions with contemporary artists such as Vija Celmins, Rebecca Horn, Anish Kapoor, Guillermo Kuitca, Ed Moses, Gabriel Orozco, Guiseppe Penone, Martin Puryear, David Reed, Ed Ruscha, Niki de Saint Phalle, Robert Therrien and Christopher Wool.
When the Estate of Sam Francis closed in 2004, The Lapis Press embarked on a new program designed to create synergy between the dynamic art scene outside of America and the vitality of the blossoming cultural climate in Los Angeles. An artist residency program was established in 2005 to provide visiting artists with housing and studio space. Residency artists have included, Elger Esser, Georg Herold, Graciela Iturbide, Rinko Kawauchi, Stephen Shore, THE LA BREA MATRIX (with Jens Liebchen, Max Regenberg, Oliver Sieber, Olaf Unverzart, Robert Voit and Janko Woltersmann), Doktor Lakra and Didier Vermeiren.
The Lapis Press is also committed to publishing work with important emerging and established artists. We continue to honor Sam Francis's legacy of collaboration by embracing new technologies and techniques. The Lapis Press has been described as an artist's toolbox— evolving with the ever expanding scope of an artist's imagination.