Fernand Mourlot was born in Paris in 1895. He grew up in the family print shop but it wasn’t until he took over in the early 1920s that he would change the fabric of printing forever. His influence fostered a resurgence of lithography, revealing it as a new avenue for expression and a new realm of possibilities for likes of Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, Joan Miró, Georges Braque, Fernand Léger, and Alberto Giacometti to enrich their own work as well as fine art in general. Fernand cultivated the lithograph as a painter’s medium and the family studio on Rue Chabrol became a hub where he could invite artists to work directly on the stone, as if creating a poster. In 1937, the studio produced two posters (based on paintings by Matisse and Bonnard) for the Maitres de l’Art indépendant exhibition at the Petit Palais. The posters were of such excellent quality that it was clear they had attained the height of printing mastery. Fernand retired in the mid 1970s but his name remains to this day synonymous with rebirth of lithography.
Jacques Mourlot, Fernand’s son, was born in 1933 and spent his childhood in the family print shop along side his father. During this renaissance of creativity and artistic expression in the studio, Jacques came to learn and understand the nuances of the lithographic process. After returning from his station in the French army in 1954, Jacques continued to assisted Fernand and his attention to detail and refined technique soon garnered him great respect as he became an invaluable asset to the studio. In 1966, Fernand designated Jacques to pioneer the family studio in New York. For six years, the print shop on Bank Street provided a space where Jacques further developed his skills as a printer, introducing new approaches to the process and creating beautiful pieces with artists such as Claes Oldenburg, Roy Lichtenstein, Ellsworth Kelly, Ben Shahn, Alex Katz, James Rosenquist, and Lee Krasner. Upon his father’s retirement, Jacques returned to Paris to take over the main studio where he continued to print the laterworks of many artists including Chagall, Miró, and Buffet until his retirement in 1990.
Eric Mourlot was born in 1970 in New York City while his father Jacques was running the studio on Bank Street and after two years, the family relocated back to Paris for Jacques to take over the main studio. It was here where he, as a child, began to spend his evenings learningvarious printing techniques with the help of artists including Marc Chagall, Alexander Calder, and Joan Miró. Eric participated in the printing process, cleaning off the machine rollers and developing a keen sense for his surroundings as a source of inspiration and creativity. He quickly became passionate about the relationships and collaborations between artists, printers, gallerists, and publishers leading him to open his first gallery on Newbury Street in Boston in 1991. In 2005, Galerie Mourlot relocated to its current Upper East Side location in NYC where Eric continues to provide a platform for artists to create history. Mourlot Editions is the legacy of his family’s print shop, the next chapter of the story. An avenue of expression where Eric can display both the works and histories of the artists his father and grandfather created with, as well as expose the continued relationship between printers and artists through the process and art form of lithography.
Francois Mourlot opens a lithographic workshop in Paris.
Jules (Charles) Mourlot, Francois’ son, expands the business by opening a second print shop in Creteil in the suburb of Paris
Fernand Mourlot, Jule’s son is born
Jules Mourlot buys a third print shop in Paris – The Imprimerie Bataille
Jules Mourlot dies and the print shop is renamed Mourlot Freres.
Mourlot prints an original poster by Pierre Girieud for the French Modern Art exhibition, Copenhagen.
Fernand collaborates with Bonnard and Matisse to create two Lithographic posters for the Art Indépendant exhibition at the Petit Palais: le petit Déjeuner by Bonnard and Le rêve by Matisse.
Letter from Le Corbusier
Jean Dubuffet is introduced to Fernand Mourlot by Jean Paulhan and discovers lithography, going on to compose two of his most beautiful books at the rue de Chabrol studio: Matière et Mémoire (text by Francis Ponge) and Les Murs (poems by Guillevic).
In November, Pablo Picasso arrives at the Mourlot studio. He proceeds to produce his first two original lithographs at the studio with the aid of Fernand: Tête de femme, Les deux femmes nues, (18 states), le Taureau (11 states). Tête de Fernand Mourlot publishes Braque le Patron (texte by Jean Paulhan)
Letter from Matisse to Fernand Mourlot
First color lithograph by Joan Miró is printed by Mourlot for the frontispiece of the Exposition internationale du Surréalisme catalogue; Mourlot also prints the original exhibition poster.
Fernand Mourlot, Jacques Mourlot, and Pablo Picasso
The Mourlot Studio holds a Mourlot Centenial attended by many of the print shop’s modern masters including Pablo Picasso & Georges Braque
Jean Cocteau Letter
Fernand and Picasso in the South of France at his house in LA, Californie, Cannes
The Mourlot Collection travels with the Smithsonian Institute and shown throughout the USA
Jacques Mourlot is designated by Fernand to pioneer the family name and business in New York, USA
Jacques collaborates with Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, and Claes Oldenburg at the New York print shop
Jacques continues build the family legacy and studio in the US, working with James Rosenquist, Ben Shahn, Alex Katz, Larry Rivers, and Lee Krasner
Alex Katz, Ateliers Mourlot, New york
Fernand retires and Jacques Mourlot returns to Paris to run the main studio where he finishes the later projects by Chagall, Miro, Buffet, etc.
John Miro, Ateliers Mourlot, Paris
Jacques Mourlot retires before the millennium
Eric Mourlot with Claude Picasso at the opening of Galerie Mourlot on Newbury Street in Boston
Galerie Mourlot moves to New York City, NY
For onwards of 152 years, Fernand Mourlot has been synonymous with the resurgence of lithography – a process which under his influence, attracted the greatest artistic masters of our time. The medium provided a new avenue of expression, a new realm of possibilities for the likes of Picasso, Matisse, Chagall, Miró, Braque, Dubuffet, Léger, and Giacometti to enrich their own work as well as fine art in general. Under the guidance of Mourlot, modern lithography developed a personality and discovered a future.
With a lithograph printshop on the rue Chabrol, one of the most popular neighborhoods in East Paris, the studio focused largely on commercial work and theater and cabaret posters. While Mourlot already had a name in printing before the outbreak of the First World War, it wasn’t until the Delacroix Exhibition in 1930 that one of the most important features of Fernand Mourlot’s domain was revealed, the art poster. Per Mourlot’s ingenuity, the exhibition poster was prepared and produced as a work of art in its own right for the first time.
In addition, Mourlot cultivated the lithograph as a painter’s medium. Initially limited to illustration, the lithograph was invented by Aloys Senefelder at the end of the 18th century. Although immediately accepted in the highest critic’s circles, the medium did not flourish until its adaptation by Cheret, Lautrec, Bonnard, and Vuillard who found a unique form of expression in its’ modern technique and bold colors. Fernand Mourlot identified this niche and employed its evident popularity by inviting artists to work directly on the stone, as if creating a poster. The first painters to create lithographs at the Mourlot Frères studio were Vlaminck and Utrillo, and for many years they would be the only ones. Further, he experimented with lithographic inks and colors, carefully dosing the varnishes and essences, and analyzing the resistance of the resulting tones to the effect of light.
In 1937, the studio created two posters (based on paintings by Matisse and Bonnard) for the Maitres de l’Art indépendant exhibition at the Petit Palais. The posters were of such excellent quality that it was clear they had attained the height of printing mastery. In the same year, the studio began a fruitful collaboration with the editor Tériade, founder of the legendary review Verve. It was then that Mourlot assisted Matisse, Braque, Bonnard, Rouault and Miró in the creation of important lithographs for the six editions after the Second World War.
"Among all the different techniques for illustrating text, the lithograph is perhaps the one that best complements poetry." - Paul Valéry
While some of the most beautiful art books by modern painters were produced on the rue Chabrol; the lithograph would remain an art form for initiates, not reaching its full embodiment until after the liberation.
In 1945, Pablo Picasso walked into the Mourlot studio. With his graphic genius and prodigious inventiveness, Picasso proceeded to lend a new dimension to the lithographic process as well as his own art. “He came like he was going to battle,” Mourlot remarked, a battle that would last four months and be repeated at different points during the next several years. A corner of the studio became Picasso’s private domain and there he created nearly four hundred lithographs between 1945 and 1969. Bolstered by the press-operators Tutins and Célestin, he worked mercilessly, inventing the most complex and extravagant techniques, the inherent difficulties of which were dissolved in the man’s customary brio. Such display of artistic liberty from this period can be seen in “La Colombe de la Paix.”
The Legacy Continues…
In 1967, Fernand’s son Jacques Mourlot was designated by his father to pioneer the family name and opened a branch of the studio on Bank Street in New York City. It was here that the infamous print shop’s legacy continued, collaborating with artists such as Rauschenberg, Bacon, Lichtenstein, Calder, Kelly, and Katz to produce contemporary lithographic masterpieces. While the studio closed in 1999, the works and the process established by its inception remain accessible through Galerie Mourlot.
As a child, Eric Mourlot participated in the printing process, soon becoming enthralled with his surroundings in the printshop. It became a source of inspiration for him, quickly igniting a passion for the relationships and collaborations that took place between artists, printers, gallerists, and publishers. Today, 164 years later, Mourlot continues to promote the art of publishing and printing that his family pioneered.
Mourlot’s history denotes a relationship and connection between the process and art form of lithography with contemporary and modern art. An exchange and legacy he strives to strengthen and share by discussing and exchanging ideas surrounding art as the ultimate form of expression and an integral platform for progress and change.