S² Editions AtelierWelcome: May 22, 2013
The advances of modern technology have improved nearly everyone’s quality of life. But, in the realm of multiple fine art production, something has been sacrificed along the way: Quality of art.
Today’s high-speed photographic printing processes, and today’s high-tech computer print outs reproducing paintings (called “giclee’s”), are “pictures.” They are not “art.” These pictures take the finest works, the most inspired of images, and reduce them to either dots or to slick, lifeless digitized images. Mechanistic and bland, they scarcely convey the beauty, depth, and subtle inner feelings of the artist’s original vision. Regrettably, most of today’s artists and art publishers resort to these processes because they are cheap, quick, easy to manufacture, and because they believe that un-compromised aesthetics in multiple fine art are a thing of the past.
The internationally famous S² Editions Atelier continues its commitment to change this perception. At S² Art Group, our mission is to produce extraordinary editions of original fine art lithographs, using traditional, historic techniques honored by the greatest master artists of the 19 th and 20 th Century. At S² Editions, our direct lithographs are works of hands-on craftsmanship. Our 21,000-square-foot atelier at the center of the Las Vegas Arts District is one of only a handful of true lithography ateliers left in the world, a place where there remains specialized historic equipment and a highly experienced staff of printer/artisans capable of performing these time-honored, fine art printing methods.
The S² Editions Atelier is the largest and arguably the most prestigious facility of its kind in the world. Artists and publishers from all over the world, who seek the finest quality there is, come to work at S² Editions. There they discover an atmosphere of creativity and dedication to art, and they experience the rewards of our “low-tech” approach: magnificent artworks of pure, vibrant color; rich texture; subtle nuances; superb aesthetic merit.
At the heart of the S² Ateliers are five extremely rare, made-in-Paris Marinoni Voirin editioning presses. Each is over 100 years old. As far as we can determine, there are only seven of these magnificent machines left in the world, and S² is the proud owner of five of them. (We are continually trying to purchase the remaining two.)
Originally powered by steam and later converted to electricity, these gorgeous flatbed presses are the same machines used in the legendary 19 th and early 20 th Century ateliers of Paris to produce original works of lithographic multiple fine art by great masters such as Alphonse Mucha, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Joan Miró, Henri Mattisse, Alexander Calder and many more. But, their value goes far beyond novelty or nostalgia: like the unequalled sound of a centuries-old Stradivarius violin, the breathtaking quality produced by these historic presses is unmatched by any of today’s reproduction technology.
The largest of the French presses has a bed size of 31” x 47” (grand aiguille), weighs 11 tons and dates back to the 1860’s. The other four range in weight from six tons to nine tons. All are expertly maintained and are in excellent condition. Also in use are the Charles brand manually operated proofing presses and three rare German-made flatbed offset presses capable of producing large-format lithography editions of up to 60” x 72.” The S² Editions Atelier inventories an extensive selection of museum-quality European, Japanese and American fine art papers.
Hands-on, time-consuming skills are an integral part of true fine art lithography production. The artists we exclusively represent for their fine art multiple editions find a unique opportunity to participate in and control the creative process. Many members of our staff of internationally trained fine art lithographers, having worked with most of the greatest artists of our time, provide instruction and assistance for both artists new to fine art lithograph print making, as well as seasoned master artists. Here’s how the process works:
*The artist, or a skilled chromist under the artist’s direction, carefully hand-draws the design onto a Mylar surface. A separate surface is drawn, by hand, for each color to be in the finished print. Directly from these hand-drawn Mylar surfaces, metal plates are created by transference.
*Master artisans slowly hand-pull each impression from these metal plates on one of the Atelier’s rare lithography presses. The paper is then pulled many times, one color at a time, one pull for each color. Registration must be perfect
*Next, the S² curating department carefully examines and numbers each final lithograph sequentially in pencil, making certain that each and every one is perfect. Imperfect prints are discarded and are never part of the edition. Finally, the artist carefully checks each print for quality and perfection before signing each print by hand. If there is the slightest imperfection, that print will be pulled from the edition.
Because we use antique flatbed presses, our color is printed with maximum pigment saturation, many times more than any modern press could ever possibly hope to achieve. This gives the art a permanency of brilliance which has proven itself over the centuries. Each sheet of the edition is by hand-fed and pulled at the press. If an edition has 15 colors and the edition is 300 prints, each sheet will go through 15 times.
The overall process is diligently crafted by S²’s artisan printers, who have been trained one generation after the next in the methods of the traditional masters. Eventually the printer, after years of training, become Master Printers to train the next generation.
A WORD ON PHOTOLITHO FUSION
The Photolitho Fusion Process is one that has been continuously developed and perfected upon at the S² Editions Atelier using the cumulative knowledge gained from years in the business, and has achieved excellence in the art of Gordon Parks.
There are three main reasons that Photolitho Fusion is a wholly unique printing process: the creation of plates, the mixture of inks to achieve the finished product, and the uniqueness of the presses from which the prints are pulled. The process involves using plates that are created from color separations and are then altered by hand using several techniques. It is this combination of photographically sourced material and hand-manipulated plates had makes our Photolitho Fusion plates unique.
When art is printed commercially, it is generally broken down into 4 prime colors, which are then printed uniformly to quickly achieve a moderate range of colors. However, the commercial process was born of the need to get printing done as quickly and cheaply as possible. Photolitho Fusion is at the opposite end of the spectrum. In our lithography studio, each color is printed singly from color that is mixed by hand, layering one color atop the next to achieve a rich vibrancy in the color combinations. Each color is matched by eye and mixed by hand to achieve the desired transparency or opacity, as well as the rich tones that can come from using pure pigments.
Only by combining the lithographic tradition with photographic technology under a careful eye can the depth of Photolitho Fusion be achieved. Each print is brought up gradually to create a richness that can only be achieved through this process, layering color on color, from hand-altered plates. These prints are made using the oldest traditions of lithography, combined with an advanced knowledge of photographic progressing.
The S² Atelier is a subsidiary of Las Vegas-based S² Art Group, Ltd. It is located in a 22,000 square foot facility at One East Charleston Boulevard, in the very center of the Las Vegas Art District. The Atelier’s Executive Director, Jack Solomon, has over 40 years’ experience in the publishing and production of limited-edition fine art lithographs. The Atelier is headed by Master Printer Ray Mazza.
S² EDITIONS ARTISANS
Raymond Mazza, Master Printer & Vice President, has been printmaking for almost 30 years, working his way from apprentice to Master Printer at the New York’s famed Eleanor Ettinger Atelier. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Hunter College with emphasis on printmaking, and has lectured and taught extensively on printmaking techniques. Among the many artists with whom he has worked are Norman Rockwell, Andy Warhol, Al Hirschfeld, Romare Bearden, Alice Neel, James Rizzi, Richard Haas, Bruno Bruni, and the estates of Alphonse Mucha, Salvador Dali, Wassily Kandinsky, and Kasimir Malevich. Mr. Mazza has also been involved in special projects for the Russian State Museum, the United Nations, the Hirschorn Gallery/Museum ( Washington, D.C.), the Museum of Modern Art (NYC), the 1984 Olympics, Warner Bros., the White House, and the American Film Institute. In addition to lithography, he has strong experience in etching, engraving, wood block, silkscreen, typesetting, papermaking, photography, photo transfer and photo screen work.
Jean Pierre Remond, Chromist Associate, has been described as “the world’s most accomplished and talented chromist.” He was mentored by the legendary lithography chromist Solier, the chromist for Chagall, and worked for many years with Chagall and Solier, along with renowned European artists including Miró, Picasso and Braque.
A PERSONAL STATEMENT FROM THE MASTER PRINTER
Working with an Artist is a personal experience. The Artist is entrusting the Printer with a part of his career. The quality of the print, and the choices made, reflect what the Artist is trying to convey. The collaboration is very close. A Printer begins to see as the Artist sees and knows how to bring out from the Artist what can not be explained in words, but what is felt. “If it feels good, it is right.”
The Artist and Printer share a very special working experience. Combined with technical skill, the trust between Artist and Printer last forever, and the outcome is great art.
The Master printers, artists, and artisan printers of S² Editions Atelier invite you to visit our facility, and to step back in time to experience first-hand how great multiple fine art is created. The S² Editions Atelier produces breathtaking fine art in a new way – The Old Way. For an appointment to tour the S² Atelier, or for further information, call Master Printer Ray Mazza at 702-868-7880, x111 to arrange for an appointment.