Fernand Mourlot, lithographe

Joan Miró

..."In 1939, Joan Miró was in Varengeville with his family, close to the home of his good friend Georges Braque. Braque said: "Try lithography. It's easy. You get a special kind of paper, you make your drawings, they transfer them - the results will be great, you'll see."

Miró followed his friend's advice and started to make transfer papers; he prepared fifty or so drawings which he kept because the future was looking dark at that time and no one knew what might happen. This was the famous Barcelona series, called so for reasons which will be explained in a moment. One fine day,in 1940, they started bombing the coast and Miró had to flee with his wife Pilar and their young daughter; when they arrived in Barcelona, he started looking for a press to print his lithographs. He had a friend named Joan Prats, a hat-maker by profession - a charming young man whom I was to meet later. Miró had no money; Prats had a little, and together they found a small press operated by a single man; he transferred the fifty lithographs, printed only seven of each - first because they couldn't pay him much, and second because Miró did not have many admirers in those times. It's for this reason that this beautiful NEXT in black is known as BarcelonaÉ Prats kept one series, Miró another, one perhaps for the printer, leaving only four or five to sell. They were and still are extremely rare"...

Fernand Mourlot, Gravé dans ma mémoire, Robert Laffont édit., 1979

Le Chien aboyant à la lune, 1952 (Mourlot 121)

"... After the War, Miró returned to Paris, and it was here that he would truly discover lithography. I assigned one of our best press operators to Miró: Jean Célestin, who would become a close friend of the painter. The understanding that they shared from the start made for some excellent work. Miró was of a taciturn nature; Célestin would guess what it was he wanted, only a few words were necessary, Miró expressing briefly his idea, Célestin voicing his assent.

In 1947 Miró created at the Mourlot studio his first color lithography, the frontispice of the catalogue for the Exposition International du Surréalisme;he also designed the exhibition poster. Keenly interested in the process, he wenton to produce several lithographs, in black, on stone, the magnificent Album 13series (1948) and several illustrative works for the books of his poet friendssuch as André Breton, Benjamin Péret, René Char, Tristan Tzara, Iliazd and André Verdet. For every exhibition he held at the gallery Maeght , he designed a poster, and further collaborated on the review Derrière le Miroir, for which he created some exceptional solo editions.

Towards the end of the sixties I proposed, as I had for Picasso, Chagall andBraque, that we compile a complete lithographic catalogue; he accepted and took direct part in the project. The first volume was published in 1972, with a preface by Michel Leiris and containing also twelve superb original compositions..."

Fernand Mourlot