Atelier Clot – A history of lithographic artistic heritage

Atelier Clot is the world’s oldest lithography workshop and is located in the charming Marais district of Paris. With a proud history dating back to 1896, the workshop was founded by Auguste Clot, one of the capital’s most talented lithographers at the time. His pioneering work in the use of color attracted the attention of the young artist group “Nabis” and the art dealer Ambroise Vollard, who commissioned works for his famous printmaker albums.

From 1896, Atelier Clot became home to the production of the most beautiful masterpieces of color lithography, bearing the signatures of great artists such as Degas, Cézanne, Renoir, Sisley, Redon, Bonnard, Vuillard, Signac, Munch, Rodin and many more.

Auguste Clot remained head of the workshop until 1934, when his son, André Clot, took over the reins. At this time, the workshop was also visited by renowned artists such as Rouault, Matisse, Denis, Roussel, Guillaumin, Foujita and others.

In the late 1950s, a young, newly qualified lithographer, Peter Bramsen, came to Paris to further his education. Already in 1963, Peter Bramsen became a partner in the old workshop, which was now owned by the founder’s grandson, Guy Georges. In 1965, Clot, Bramsen & Georges were founded and Bramsen became artistic and professional leader. In 1968, the workshop moved from Rue du Cherche-Midi to larger premises in the heart of the Marais district on Rue Vieille du Temple. Here, a host of artists such as Asger Jorn, Alechinsky, Bram Van Velde, Lindström, Wyckaert, Pol Bury, Topor, Arman, Saura, Bjørn Nørgaard, Voss, Toledo, Michaux, Soulages, Calder, Wifredo Lam and many others gathered to work with stone prints.

His son Christian Bramsen became a partner in 1988 and is the guarantor that the high standards continue, just as they did when the company was founded over 100 years ago. Christian Bramsen, who also serves as chief printer, has an international orientation and uses his experience to organize exhibitions both domestically and abroad with the artists associated with the publishing house. Most recently, the third generation of the Bramsen family has joined the company. Christian’s son Victor is a trained art dealer in France, and is the daily manager of the gallery in Paris.

The workshop in Paris has been represented in Denmark for over 30 years. In 2004 Morten Brunholt takes over the representation of the workshop and publisher in Scandinavia. In 2013, Morten and Christian set up the Danish publishing house Atelier Clot, Bramsen & Brunholt. The publisher publishes high-quality Danish and international art. Since 2021, the lithographs have been on display in the gallery at Frederiksø in Svendborg, Denmark. Here the focus is on to preserve and develop the ancient craft of lithography and offer our guests artistic experiences of international class. The beautifully situated site on Frederiksø by the harbor in Svendborg was formerly used by Svendborg Shipyard and is therefore steeped in history and the maritime environment that characterizes Svendborg. The gallery is managed by Charlotte and Morten Brunholt.

Today, the Paris workshop is equipped with the following staff and materials: Christian Bramsen as head printer and owner, Thomas Marin as lithographic printer, Ariel Termine as graphic designer and Victor Bramsen as sales and marketing manager. The workshop extends over 300 m2 with an 80 m2 basement and includes three hand presses, a copper printing press, a Voirin printing press, a paper cutter and around 250 litho stones (approx. 15 tons). There are also three 44″ inkjet printers and one 60″ inkjet printer available. Since the 1960s, over 500 artists have printed more than 6,000 lithographs in the workshop.

The workshop and gallery in Svendborg includes a 100 m2 gallery and a 75 m2 workshop with two French hand presses, a German Schnell press, a copperplate press and framing tools. Morten Brunholt acts as owner and sales manager, while Charlotte Brunholt is responsible for sales and marketing. Dina Schäfer works in sales and in the gallery.

Today, Atelier Clot is an internationally recognized workshop and publishing house that remains true to its artistic heritage. For decades, the workshop has been a source of inspiration and a place where artists have been able to explore lithography and become part of the same story told by past masters such as Renoir, Degas and Munch. With continued artistic collaborations and a passion for the art form of lithography, Atelier Clot is living proof of how tradition and innovation can coexist.

Opinions of selected artists

Dinner is approaching. A nice scent hangs in the air and displaces the fumes of oil and gasoline. The machine is stationary. A little chimera. A key quickly tightens a nut: the printer’s handover wraps a stone in the press for the upcoming work with a mechanic’s automatic movements. It’s Jean Gabin and his locomotive in The Man Animal. As I smear a series of marginal blobs on my stone to decipher what they’re dictating to me (in terms of Rorchach tests: then you make the best yourself) I can hear beer bottles opening up and pulling up wine. The table is covered – this afternoon we will sit and sign works by it – and there comes what I probably knew : the pot! Peter hosts us princely. The tablecloth is taken from a roll of brown paper: the publisher’s wrapping paper. After the coffee, he will make the “tablecloth” into a large bag that accommodates the relief of the meal.
On the empty table, I’m looking for a “graffiti” left by Jorn. It’s become a habit of me. Cut made by our friend with pocket knife. An image in raw mode, in the same spirit as the wall inscriptions in Belleville, as Brassaï held by photographed in the backlight. In the absence of a photograph, Peter has done something even better: an image à la chinoise (after the coffee is drunk and the “tablecloth” is in the dustbin) printed in 13 copies.
I wonder if it should not be at this table – it must have been june 1972, a little before he returned home, Copenhagen, Silkeborg, Aarhus, where he died during the following spring – that I, for the last time, saw Asger Jorn draw on the stone , take a snap, hum between the teeth, turn on his pipe, talk about “the shortcomings of the scientific concept: dissymetri”, and then, with its imaginative, fast and elegant writing, number the newly printed lithographs one by one, give them titles, sign them and so suddenly erupt into garbage laughter.
Pierre Alechinsky

“To Peter Bramsen”, Antonia Saura In the gate the great hand press like a horned animal patiently waiting to be sent to Central America.Behind the glass door the large hall with the black machines, aquarium, lighthouse, factory that always stands with gray tones in the memory.
To the left of the entrance the large table for brother’s meals, generous handouts, and for signing the finished prints, reminiscent of swarms of butterflies. On the wall behind the table are postcards and clippings, random swaps taken from distant ports on long journeys. On the right, a galley, where the captain, like the lonely navigator he continues to be, prepares the dish of the day. It’s not just pork and cabbage that’s on offer to the crew. The ship – full of flying dreams, hymns and hard winds, in the imagination engulfed in the duvasive and seemingly fragile hall of crystal, where the presses crank reminiscent of the ship’s rudder- propelled by the vulnerable butterflies of paper of many colors, produced beneath the bearded giant’s watchful gaze. There are closes where the sailors work and in the cargo there are hidden compartments and strange hooks with flowing water. To the left of the great hall of the machines- it is a sailing ship whose strange apparatus only provides scattered and random energy that drives stiffened instincts, desires and surprises – you see Captain Nemo’s locked cabin with drawers full of treasures from the sea , conquests, triumphs and disappointments, colors and tattoos mastered by the now-lost great troll’s disturbing, corrosive, warming closeness.
“Le Calmar géant”, “le mystérieux Orient-Express”, “le Grand d’outremer”, “le Hollandais errant”, “l’Ange”, “le Ramolliseur”, “la Taupementale”, “le Serpent infaillible”, “leCorsaire noir”, “le Saurien à la jambe de bois” et “le Gitano Señorito” is some of sailors recalled from long different voyages for full sails. For more than a few years on the great crystal ship, I have had the honour of working under the supervision of the great and generous captain, to attend the mornings thereand brilliant dusk. During the difficult work of the many months, we have seen the four seasons come to light, the gardens of nations, storms of acid and ink, deformed monsters, bottomless depths, images without centre and midpoints hidden in mists. We have been involved in landings and rescue operations, we have raised the flag and we have been deaviating pirates. We have thrown half-made cadastral cadalates overboard, sent letters to Mexico to the cheers of philatelists, and we have thrown bottle mail into the Sargasso sea addressed to several dear ancestors at other latitudes. In the compass rose we have seen the clarified teachings of the future. In the logbook of the long crossings, we have forever corrected the compass precisely north-south, two fixed points of reference in a constant friendship, the warm shelter of the sailing people of the earth.
Antonio Saura

“A stone” Bjorn Nørgaard Handshake, backprint, imprint, impression, expression, depression … Imprint in clay, wedge print in wet clay boards, medieval woodcuts, 19th century littographic posters, 60s political offset prints … To announce yourself, to express something, to tell a story, to give a message…
Today it is the mass-produced print case, the advertisement, the print, the printed image, the printed image through history, been the most widely-popular-medium, to tell a story with – first with the global electronic images over satellites, is a serious competitor emerged – however, the image is in principle built up in the same way, the point, but the screen has superseded the paper. The image as object, the calm meditative recital, has turned into the screen’s choppy flicker, the afterthought has become visual noise.
Pencil and paper, marker and stone, single, direct, economical, gentle environmental, the stone is used again and again, limited circulation, small resource consumption, a communication from one human being to another, simple, respectful, the artist with his reflections, the spectator with his thoughts.
The workshop, its technique and expression, in that sense belongs to the lithograph, printed with stone, 19th century, it was the technologically superior image production of the time, but at the same time the technique contains some qualities of intangible nature that I have tried to approach me in the previous one; until it comes time.
The modern digital techniques steal time, we thought that automation and digital processes could save time and work and thus give people more time for themselves (?), whatever it should be. The opposite turns out to be the case.
When an artist draws on stones, he gives time to the stone, time for the image, when the lithograph prints the image he gives time, each piece of paper is touched by many human hands, they give time to the image, when we consider a lithograph done by many hands we receive time, calm and thought, whereas the digital image steals our time and our dreams.
Therefore, Peter’s workshop is an important “stone” in the building called a human being, a stone.
Bjørn Nørgaard