Located in the Montparnasse section of Paris, the Idem studio was originally built by the printer Emile Dufrenoy in 1880, as a space to house his lithographic presses. Moving into the next century, various owners preserved the art of lithography, producing lithographs by the likes of Matisse, Picasso, Miro, Braque, Chagall, Léger, Cocteau, and others. Today, the tradition continues. And, amazingly, the atelier still uses 19th century flatbed machines, powered by a gas steam boiler, to keep the tradition of lithography alive. While on a recent trip to Paris, the surrealist filmmaker David Lynch paid a visit to Idem and fell in love with what he saw, so much so that he produced a short documentary highlighting Idem’s artistic process. As a preface to the film, Lynch wrote on the Idem web site:
Hervé Chandès from the Fondation Cartier brought me over to Idem and introduced me to Patrice Forest. I see this incredible place, and I get the opportunity to work there. And this was like a dream! It just opened up this brand-new world of the lithography and the magic of lithography, the magic of the stones. And it was a great, great thing! This thing of lithography, this channel of lithography opened up and a bunch of ideas came flowing out and it led to about a hundred lithographs. I will say that Idem printing studio has a unique, very special mood, and it is so conducive to creating. Patrice has the greatest attitude for all the artists and he creates this space of freedom and this joy of creating. It’s so beautiful! And I think the place is very important—in other wors, the same stone could be moved to another place, and I think that the work that comes out would be different. It’s a combination of the stone, the place, the people, this mood, and out comes these certain ideas.