Atelier Michael Woolworth
Shortly after his arrival in Paris in 1979, Michael Woolworth met Franck Bordas (grandson of lithographer Fernand Mourlot), who had just opened up his own a lithography shop. He worked there for six years, first as an assistant and then as a partner, working with such artists as Roberto Matta, Jean Dubuffet, Gilles Aillaud, Jorge Camacho, Henri Cueco, Erró, Daniel Pommereulle, Hervé Di Rosa, Jean Messagier, François Boisrond and Guy Rougemont.
In 1985, he opened his own studio on the Île Saint Louis. His first project there, with the Surrealist Matta, consisted of 90 scenes from Cervantes’ Don Quixote. He continued working with Daniel Pommereulle and Jorge Camacho, and later invited several new artists to the studio: American painter William MacKendree; the composer Marc Marder; Austrian Gunter Damisch; hyperrealist Claude Yvel; Figuration Libre artist Rémi Blanchard; the abstract painters Frédérique Lucien, Stéphane Bordarier, Jean-François Maurige and Pierre Mabille; as well as Arman, with whom he made the 1997 book Afrikan Matricule, illustrating a poem by Joseph Guglielmi with 26 original lithographs.
The shop was set up with two hand presses that it still uses to this day: a 63 x 90 cm French lithographic Brisset that formerly belonged to Jean Fautrier, and a 120 x 250 cm etching press, made-to-order in the 1970s for Swedish artist Bengt Lindstrom. Today, there are five presses (all manuel) : three lithographic presses and two etching presses, which can print formats as large as 3m x 1m50.
As the studio grew, it increasingly developed as a kind of laboratory for creation, where the art of printmaking is constantly reinvented. He began publishing several Spanish artists: José Manuel Broto, Miguel Ángel Campano, Jaume Plensa, and especially José Maria Sicilia, beginning a close collaboration of over 200 editions that included the artist’s book You’re Alone (1992), a series of lithographs dipped in beeswax and sewn together with thread; En Flor (1999-2000), a series of monumental prints made from pressing fresh flowers onto paper, with the images resulting from liquid from the withering blossoms; and Le livre des mille et une nuits (1997-98), turning a 1910 French edition of A Thousand and One Nights into an artist’s book by printing on its pages, or on sheets of translucent Japanese paper inserted into the volumes.
In 2000, Michael Woolworth expanded to a studio in Montparnasse, on the Impasse du Mont Tonnerre, where he began collaborations with Austrian artist Otto Zitko, including his artist’s book Polyne; French artist Vincent Corpet, publishing several monotypes and a book on transparent plastic sheets; and producing geometric works by Miquel Mont; a figurative lithographic triptych by Marc Desgrandchamps; and a boxed set with Australian conceptual artist Mark Themann, The Surrogate Cartographer, combining fine letterpress intervention and red sealing wax.
The printing studio moved to an even larger space in 2003 just outside Paris in Malakoff, where he began, notably, working with Jim Dine, first with a series of sumptuous, large-scale botanical prints and, later, the extensive Pinocchio project. The studio also worked with Irish painter Sean Scully, Jean-Pierre Pincemin and Hélène Delprat, as well as the Nuancier by Marie-Ange Guilleminot. In 2004, he collaborated with José Maria Sicilia on one of the atelier's most ambitious projects to date: a "rug" measuring 9m x 3m, printed in lithography on an ensemble of 84 plaster plates. First shown in the Islamic galleries at the Louvre museum, the piece has since been exhibited around the world.
The atelier returned to a historic Parisian studio in 2005 just off the Place de la Bastille. In addition to continuing projects with Jim Dine and Sean Scully, the studio also began collaborating with Yuri Kuper, Günther Forg, Djamel Tatah, Stéphane Pencréac’h, Frédérique Loutz, Ofer Lellouche, Stéphane Bordarier, Richard Gorman, Jean-Michel Othoniel, Bertrand Lavier, Allen Jones and Blaise Drummond.
In 2011, Michael Woolworth was honored with two distinctions by the French culture ministry: he was given the title of Maître d'art, as well as being named a Chevalier dans l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres.