Mourlot, Picasso and the Print Revival

In 1946 at the invitation of Fernand Mourlot, Picasso spent an intense period of several months learning and ultimately re-inventing lithography. Unlike many artists of his generation familiar with printmaking, Picasso was never formally taught and relied heavily on his printers to navigate many of the technical problems that needed solving to produce what he wanted. Mourlot made the observation that "During this period Picasso exhausted the possibilities of the process". The lithographs he made at Mourlot were quickly disseminated and seen throughout Europe and the United States, where many artists for the first time saw the infinite creative possibilities and innovations possible with lithography.

To Picasso's credit, his Mourlot lithgraphs kicked off a major revival of printmaking all over the Art World. Ironically, it was not the lithographic stone but the etching plate that was Picasso's favorite print medium (plates were more convenient for him to work with outside the print workshop) but the legacy of his foray into lithography at the Mourlot was a watershed moment in the post WW2 revival of printmaking.

In 1946, at the behest of his good friend and publisher Teriade for his popular art periodical Verve Magazine, lithographs and high quality reproductions of graphic work from this critical printmaking period were featured in a special issue devoted to the graphic work of Picasso in 1946 (which is included in this exhibit). The response was so favorable that Teriade featured Picasso's graphic work and ceramic pottery in another Verve issue just a few years later (also included in this exhibit).

The 1946 Verve images reflect Picasso's preoccupation at the time with Francoise Gilot. After begging her to live with him (which took 3 years) they lived together for almost a decade and had two children (Claude and Paloma) with stunning family images included in the second Verve Picasso issue published in 1949. 

With meticulous detail, Fernand Mourlot documented all the graphic works he printed for Picasso and created with Andre Sauret what is the arguably the most comprehensive publication of Picasso's graphic works printed at the Mourlot titled Picasso Lithographie with high quality lithographs accompanied by full edition information (all in French). These images not only document what was printed but most important they are a rare glimpse into Picasso's creative thought process, something that is best achieved with the immediate feedback of proofs pulled at the Atelier from the stone. No other medium even comes close.

Comprising three entire volumes spanning the most critical, influential and historically important period of his lithography with Mourlot (1947-1963), the entire collection is included in this exhibit.