Fernand Mourlot, lithographe

Avec Jean Dubuffet

Les Mangeurs d'oiseaux, Matière et mémoire, 1944

..." I met Dubuffet through Jean Paulhan. One day in 1944 he wrote me: "Mourlot, I wouldlike to introduce you to a great painter - Jean Dubuffet, who would like to ask you for some advice about lithography. Please meet with him and show him a bit what to do."

When I received this letter from my friend Paulhan, I immediately agreed to meet with Dubuffet. I am always happy to introduce new adepts to lithography, and this one here seemed right away a tailor-made recruit.

The next day - he was anxious to meet me - Dubuffet was in the studio, right on time. A fairly sober-looking man, but with a spark of irony in his eyes, I liked him right away and we took to each other from the very start. At his urging, I gave him a short lesson in lithography, as was my custom. He listened attentively, asking questions, wanting explanations, but while I spoke I thought: "At any rate he'll do it his own way, my new friend, and his lithographs won't be mine but decidely Dubuffet's."

Immediately after, standing before a nice stone, with his tools, ink, and a lithograph pencil, he got to work. I had judged correctly: he turned that stone into a Dubuffet! He wouldn't stop, he studied things, and he didn't take long getting used to the technique - it would be better to say that in a certain way he molded the technique to his creative genius; onto the stone he transferred chestnut and plane tree leaves, butterfly wings, unusual things, he inked it upand the result turned out to be very surprising.

There was La Vache Bleue dans une ville, L'Homme du commun, with a text by Paul Eluard, then we collaborated on a work entitled Matière et Mémoire or Lithographe à l'école, with a nice text by Francis Ponge, and right after, Les Murs, with poems by Guillevic.

Invitation à l'exposition des lithographies de Jean Dubuffet, à la galerie André en 1945

Dubuffet continued to work actively at the studio, but he was always anxious to see the results of his compositions and was dissatisfied when the printing of new proofs was postponed until the next day. It should be mentioned that I had in the studio at that time a great many important artists and so I had to "share" the presses. I was in fact in a delicate position.

In agreement with me, and in order not to break his rhythm and will to create, Jean Dubuffet decided to found a small studio by himself, which would produce only his own works. After some difficulty, he found an energetic young man who was eager to work with him. For two years he dedicated himself to lithography, creating many beautiful prints "....

Fernand Mourlot, A Même la pierre, Ed. Pierre Bordas & Fils, 1982