Catalog raisonné of the prints
The collection of the artist’s prints is based on the work of Laure Vallette, as part of her master’s thesis in art history written in 2005, under the direction of Professor Emmanuel Pernoud at the University of Picardie Jules Verne, from the archives collected by Christine Manessier.
Gabrièle Schiffer and Jeanne Manessier, with the help of Jean-Baptiste Manessier, Odile and Jean-François Locquin, have updated, photographed and digitized the works.
The present online version of Laure Valette’s work has been reviewed, corrected and expanded by Christine Manessier, according to the current state of our knowledge, which may still evolve over time.
If you have additional information about a print by Alfred Manessier or if you wish to report a lack or an error, please write to us at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Engraved Work of Alfred Manessier
In parallel to painting, Manessier expressed himself through a hundred original prints and a dozen illustrated books. The artist most often favored the technique of lithography, no doubt to best meet his aptitudes and aspirations as a colorist.
“It is necessary to go back forty years to find a trace of my first lithographic attempt. At the very beginning, I only ventured into black and white. But very quickly, the following year, having acquired a certain mastery of the technique, an album composed of seven color lithographs on the theme of Easter was presented in April 1949 as part of a first solo exhibition at Jeanne Bucher in Paris.
In 1978, I was given the opportunity to take up and develop – as an echo – this same theme of the Passion and Resurrection of Christ, in a series of fifteen lithographs prepared on zinc plates and not, alas, on stones like the majority of my prints.
When I first started working with lithography, I immediately felt that for me it was not simply a means of reproducing an already existing work, but a means of expression in itself, with its own requirements and resources.
Moreover, this means of expression offered the advantage, by the multiplication of the same image, albeit in a limited edition, of being able to reach and perhaps touch a wider public.
Lithography thus allowed me to “popularize” or “democratize” certain major themes addressed in my painting, on which I wanted to particularly insist.
And curiously enough, if one looks back on all the lithographs I have been asked to make, one can see that they trace a punctual and essential summary of my painted work.
Thus one finds present – through this choice of prints – the three axes which support the whole of my work: my love of nature, of its landscapes and its lights; the affirmation of my Christian faith and my sensitivity in the face of the tragic events of the world.
Changing discipline rests and helps to renew oneself: it’s as if the breathing is different. The lithography, certainly, is not the same world, materially, as the stained glasses, the tapestry or the painting, but what I try to express – by the mediation of stones, inks and paper – carries the mark of the same spirit.
In the work of preparing my prints, I feel like a lithographer from head to toe. At the time of the corrections and the printmaking – abandoning the solitary and silent work of the workshop – I am happy to share for a few moments the life of the lithographic craftsmen in the exercise of a collective work. I feel how excellent it is for me to find myself from time to time in the middle of a workshop like the one, for example, in Mourlot in Montparnasse, where the benevolent complicity of the chromist Henry Deschamps has been waiting for me for years.
In lithography, the most important element is the discipline imposed by the technical process: the need to play on a sometimes very limited register of colors. It is necessary to take advantage of the four or five colors imposed by the craft itself – colors that must be tuned to the maximum, that must be superimposed with more or less transparency, depending on the order of the passages. To know how to enrich such red in order to make it appear. To calm this blue or to exalt this other. To cool or warm the blacks which must be considered as colors. Until the end, it is possible to modify the inks, thus the quality.
A modest working conduct is necessary. It puts you in front of precise problems which it is necessary to solve immediately. It guides and encircles the will until the final creation.”
Clamart, October 3, 1988
Extract from the catalog published to accompany the retrospective of Alfred Manessier’s engraved work – MANESSIER, LE REGARD, LA COULEUR, LA PIERRE, 40 ANS DE LITHOGRAPHIE – organized abroad by the Association française d’Action Artistique – Ministry of Foreign Affairs, from February 21, 1989 to July 15, 1991.