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Atelier Mourlot and 20th Century Lithography in Paris

Marc Chagall, Daphnis et Chloe, The Trampled Flowers, M.343, 1961 The Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura & Hayama
© ADAGP, Paris & JASPAR, Tokyo, 2015,
Chagall ® E1401

Dates:
April 4 - May 12, 2015
Hours:
9:30 - 17:00 (last admission 16:30)
Closed:
Mondays
Organizers:
DIC Corporation, The Yomiuri Shimbun, The Japan Association of Art Museums
Special cooperation:
Urawa Art Museum
Sponsors:
Lion Corporation, Shimizu Corporation, Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd., Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Insurance Inc.
Patrons:
Embassy of France/Institut français du Japon, Chiba Prefecture, Chiba Prefectural Board of Education, Sakura City, Sakura City Board of Education

The name Fernand Mourlot (1895 – 1988) and the print studios (atelier) he ran are the stuff of legend among the artists who lived and worked in Paris in the 20th century.
It was with the death of his father in 1921 that Fernand and his older brother took over the running of their father’s printing company and changed its name to Mourlot Brothers. As a lithographic printing shop producing primarily champagne labels and advertisements in a corner of Paris, it wasn't until a poster they produced for the Delacroix retrospective exhibition held at the Louvre in 1930 drew widespread attention that the Mourlot company began to develop as a studio specializing in fine art lithograph prints. Beginning with Matisse in the 1930s, and followed after World War II by Picasso, Chagall, Miró and others, one great artist after another discovered Fernand’s studios and became absorbed in the creation of lithographic prints. At the studio, the artists worked in consultation with the lithograph artisans and printers to create prints, laboring in collaboration until they could produce prints that satisfied their exacting artistic demands. The creative process often involved repeated experiments with revolutionary new techniques to get the results they wanted. In this way, Atelier Mourlot became a studio where the collaborative efforts of the artists and lithographers expanded the creative possibilities of lithography as a creative medium.
In this exhibition, we introduce some 300 exhibit items, including lithographic prints by the great masters of the 20th century, as well as print-illustrated books and art magazines and items like a press that came from the Mourlot studio to Japan.

Section 1 ∣ 19th-century Lithography

After its invention by the German author Alois Senefelder in the 18th century as a printing and printmaking method, lithography spread throughout Europe, and in the Napoleonic era, presses using the lithographic stone method were set up throughout France as an efficient printing method. It was then artists of the 19th century that found new creative possibilities in lithography and sparked the first boom in lithographic printmaking. Manet and Redon made lithograph print series inspired by literary works, and in the latter half of the 19th century Jules Chéret and Toulouse-Lautrec created flamboyant and boldly designed posters that decorated the streets of Paris.

Odilon REDON
Apocalypse of Saint-John
1899 Mie Prefectural Art Museum

Henri de TOULOUSE-LAUTREC
Divan Japonais
1892 Kyoto Institute of Technology, Museum and Archives

Main artists represented:Delacroix, Daumier, Manet, Chéret, Steinlen, Mucha, Toulouse-Lautrec, Redon, Bonnard

Section 2 ∣ The Work of Atelier Mourlot: Lithographs of the Great Masters

After the initial blossoming of artistic lithography in the 19th century, a second flowering of the art occurred after the First World War. Atelier Mourlot (Mourlot Studios) was at the center of this new artistic blossoming. From Section 2 to Section 4 of this exhibition we introduce lithographic art prints produced at Atelier Mourlot.

Collaboration of Artists and Printmaking Artisans

As the fame of Atelier Mourlot spread among artists, they came in growing numbers to Fernand Mourlot’s studios to create print works. The works that artists drew on lithograph stones or zinc plates in one room of the studios were given to the print artisans, who then began the process of making the printing plates and printing them, after which the artists checked the test proof and, if there were no problems in them, okayed the printing of a series to then be numbered and signed by the artist. With repeated trips to the Mourlot studios, the artists came to know the print artisans individually and worked together with them to experiment with and develop new, more effective techniques. In time, certain artisans became responsible for the prints of specific artists like the artisan Deschamps for Picasso and Tutin for Matisse.
Chagall developed such a close working relationship with a Mourlot Studios print artisan named Charles Sorlier that he made him his assistant, who accompanied the artist in his travels and eventually was asked by Chagall to write his biography (titled Chagall, Le Patron and released in Japanese translation as Waga Shi Chagall from Shinchosha). Through collaborations like this between the artists and print artisans who understood the characters and expressive tastes of the individual artists, the artists were able to create works making use of the unique qualities of the lithographic medium that differed from their works in oils or etching.

Pablo PICASSO
Dove
1949 Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts
©2015-Succession Pablo Picaso-SPDA(JAPAN)

Lithographs Bringing Color to Texts

The era of the second blossoming of lithography as an artistic medium was also one that saw a growth in popularity of print albums and illustrated books. Lavish publications of the classical works of literature or the books or poetry collections of contemporary writers that were printed on the highest quality paper with beautiful fonts and illustrated extravagantly with prints by painters of the day became popular as works of art in themselves. Many of these highly artistic illustrated books where the products of proposals and collaborative production between editors or publishers with a strong artistic orientation, galleries or art dealers, printmaking studios and the artists. Atelier Mourlot is known as the printer of some of the great masterpieces of lithograph-illustrated books such as Chagall’s Daphnis and Chloe and Léger’s Circus.

LE CORBUSIER
Poem of the Right Angle
1955 Urawa Art Museum
©FLC/ADAGP, Paris & JASPAR, Tokyo, 2015 E1401

Fernand LÉGER
Circus
1950 Urawa Art Museum

Georges BRAQUE
XX Thoughts by Braque
1958 Urawa Art Museum

Main Artists represented : Matisse, Vlaminck, Picasso, Léger, Braque, Chagall, Le Corbusier, Cocteau, Miró, Ben Shahn, Henry Moore, Giacometti, Dubuffet

Section 3 ∣ The Work of Atelier Mourlot: Art Magazines, Books and Catalogues

In the era when Atelier Mourlot was active, original lithographs commonly decorated the pages of a variety of published materials and publications. One example is Picasso Lithographs (four volumes) published by the Mourlot Studios, in which Picasso’s works were introduced on the pages as regular printed plates but the cover and frontispiece of each volume were actual lithograph prints. In this same era, there were also extravagant art magazines published, based on plans from editors or publishers and enlisting the collaboration of contemporary literary figures, philosophers and artists. One of the leading examples of this genre was the magazine Verve (1937 – 60) led by the editor Tériade, which won a reputation as “the world’s most beautiful magazine.” Many of the lithographs used in art publications like this were printed at Atelier Mourlot. Fernand Mourlot wrote memoires about his life and his work at the Mourlot Studios, and among these writings are ones with original lithograph prints as covers.

Section 4 ∣ The Work of Atelier Mourlot: Posters

Atelier Mourlot also published many posters for museum and gallery exhibitions. Matisse and Chagall were also commissioned to make posters for city festivals by local governments and created and printed them at Atelier Mourlot. In addition to their role as advertisements, these posters were of such quality that they were also valued as works of art. In that they also indicate important aspects of exhibition contents and design trends of the times, they remain today as valuable records of the art of their day.

Bonnard, Vuillard and the Nabis.
Musée national d'Art moderne. Paris.

Suntory Poster Collection deposited in Osaka City
Museum of Modern Art, Planning Office

UTAMARO Exhibition. Huguette Berès. Paris.
Suntory Poster Collection deposited in Osaka City
Museum of Modern Art, Planning Office

Lithograph Printing and materials

Progress in the technology of printing eventually led lithography going out of use in standard printed materials, posters and the like, but lithography remained established as a method for artistic printmaking that continues to be used around the world today. With lithograph stones increasingly difficult to obtain today, use of metal plates of aluminum, etc., has now become mainstream.
In this section of the exhibition, a lithograph press and printing utensils are on display along with a 15-minute video that shows the lithograph creation and printing process.

A press
Utsunomiya Museum of Art
Photo: by Tokio ITO, ©Tokio ITO

Main displays : A press and utensiles, etc., used in lithograph printing

Reference book: Fernand Mourlot, Engraved in My Memory: 50 Years of Lithography(translated by Yusaku Masuda), Kyuryudo, 1981
Video cooperation: Kanazawa College of Art (Prof. Yoshio Kamitani)

* Some exhibit items will be rotated during the exhibition run.
* Exhibit list to be posted at a later date.

  • ■Lecture (in Japanese)

    Saturday April 18, 14:00 - 15:30
    “Fernand Mourlot and Original Lithographs as an Autonomous Art Form”
    Lecturer: Yusaku Masuda

    A contributor to this exhibition, Yusaku Masuda went to Paris in 1964 as an exchange student to study printing and art. There he discovered the art of lithograph printmaking that was different from the “creative printmaking” (sosaku hanga) popular in Japan. In 1974 he signed a technical assistance contract with Fernand Mourlot and established a lithography studio in Tokyo named “Atelier MMG” (1974 – 2007). There he worked with many Japanese artists to create original lithographs. Masuda is also the Japanese translator of Fernand Mourlot’s book Engraved in My Memory (published as Paris no Kobo – Kioku ni Kizamareta Geijutsuka-tachi, Kyuryudo. In this lecture he speaks about Fernand Moulot and lithography.

    No reservation needed, free of charge, limited to first 50 people (Museum admission stub required)

  • ■Gallery Talks by the Curator (in Japanese)

    Saturday April 4, Saturday May 2, 14:00 - 15:00
    The curator in charge talks about the exhibition in the galleries.
    No reservations needed / Gather at the Entrance Hall 14:00

  • ■Guided Tours

    Tours of the permanent collection and the exhibition by guide staff.
    14:00-15:00 daily except on days of lectures, curator gallery talks.
    No reservations needed / Gather at the Entrance Hall 14:00

The catalogue contains plates and explanations of the exhibited works, explanations for each Section, definitions of terminology, related chronology, a map of Paris, a rich assortment of reference materials related to the Atelier Mourlot era and essays by the researchers involved.

Permanent Collection Exhibit Information

Paintings and sculpture by great artists associated with Atelier Mourlot from the Kawamura collection will be on view in the permanent collection galleries and on the museum grounds.
Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Henri Matisse, Pierre Bonnard, Fernand Léger, Jean Dubuffet, Joan Miro, Jean Arp, Henry Moore

DIC Corporation and Atelier Mourlot

DIC Corporation is the outgrowth of the original Kawamura Ink Manufactory established in Tokyo in 1908, and today is a global corporate group with its main business in printing inks that uses the latest technologies to develop and manufacture a variety of products that bring color to people’s lives. At the same time, the company has run the Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art to contribute to the art world. As for Atelier Mourlot, it evolved from a local shop printing wrapping paper, wine labels and other items to become a art studio that collaborated with many great artists of the day to produce outstanding works of art with lithography. In this sense both can be seen as companies that contributed to printing culture and the history of art in the 20th century. Now, we hold this exhibition about the role of the creativity of artists and the technical skills of printmakers in taking the medium of lithography from commercial printing to the realm of artistic creation in the 20th century as one that overlaps strongly with our corporate principle of using chemistry to bring color and comfort to people’s live within the rapid digitalization of life in the 21st century.

Adults
¥1,300
Students & seniors over 65 with ID
¥1,100
Elementary, middle and high school students
¥600

[Group rate over 20 persons (following price is for one person)]

Adults
¥1,100
Students & seniors over 65 with ID
¥900
Elementary, middle and high school students
¥500

[Persons with disability pass (+ one attendant each)]

Adults
¥1,000
Students & seniors over 65 with ID
¥800
Elementary, middle and high school students
¥400
  • - For students and seniors over 65, discounts require identification such as a Student ID or Health Insurance Certificate.
  • - Students=college, vocational and preparatory school students
  • - Art Education Support Program is available for teachers so they can provide an interactive gallery talk with their students. (¥3500 per class / in Japanese only)
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