color woodblock print, titled in pencil at lower left, The Point, and signed at lower right, Lang, printed ca. 1930s
19.1 by 12.1 cm
Born in London, England, there is scant information on the life of Sam Lang whose full name may be Samuel Lancaster Bryant and who was known to have lived in Medford, Oregon and Santa Barbara, California.
According to an article published in 1929 in a local paper in Medford where he lived from ca. 1926, Lang was educated at English and French colleges, and he was highly influenced by Japanese woodblock prints which he studied for thirty years. From 1914 "S. Lang was spending his days working with woodcuts in the British Museum" and he asserted that "has worked steadily with them ever since--15 hours a day." He was obsessed with gradations of color, calling himself a 'color mechanic' and while he strived to replicate Japanese-style woodblock printing, he disparaged the devotion to the black outline, pointing out that "Nature is not outlined" and "I have always contended that this line is not only unnecessary and unbeautiful, but it is a trick of the trade--it covers up misfits." He also mentions a period of being a "cow-puncher" (cowboy) on the plains. In 1932 another article appeared in the Medford paper in which he mentions that he had studied landscape painting with Frische, a British Royal academician, before his "revolutionary swing to woodcuts in 1914" and he "revealed he imitated the Japanese woodcut technique until 1920" at which point he "destroyed all of my blocks and determined to develop a true American technique" which he would later dub a "color cut."
Lang relocated in Santa Barbara, California in circa 1929. It seems plausible that Lang was an associate and possibly former student of the highly influential English woodblock printmaker and teacher, Frank Morley Fletcher (1866-1950), who he may have known in London and who was the director of the Santa Barbara School of Art from 1924-1930. Lang died following a stroke in Santa Barbara on November 21, 1937; a notice of his passing in the Medford paper cites another variation on his full name: Samuel Lankinshire Bryant.
Katherine Martin, Highlights of Japanese Printmaking: Part Three - The International Perspective, New York: Scholten Japanese Art, 2008, no. 42
Mary Greiner, S. Lang, Woodcut Artist of City Finds Inspiration in Nature's Colors, Medford Mail Tribune (Medford, Oregon), November 24, 1929
Eva Nealon Hamilton, Former Medford Artist Plying Craft in South, Medford Mail Tribune (Medford, Oregan), December 9, 1932
Dies in South--Sam Lang, Medford Mail Tribune (Medford, Oregan), December 3, 1937 (death notice)
(inv. no. 10-2807)
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