The World of Michael Parkes

The Art of Stone Lithography

Michael Parkes is a living master of the stone lithograph process, which is an increasingly rare art form. A dying art. Michael’s ability to draw a firm line around his ideas is one of his greatest gifts - and absolutely essential for the demanding discipline of stone lithography.  Parkes began in the early 1980’s making hand-pulled original stone lithographs, drawing them in the traditional manner directly onto the stone.  He has always been attracted to the immediacy of stone lithography.  The medium is very intolerant of mistakes.  The artist needs to know exactly what he wants to do and exactly how to do it.

Parkes stone lithographs can use as many as 14 colors and traditionally that would mean 14 different stones, but over the years Parkes created a technique where he used two or three stones to produce the same results.  The image for each new color is drawn on the stone and in doing so, the previous color-image is completely erased and irretrievable. One cannot backtrack for correcting or adding to a previous color already printed.  It makes the process much faster but the safety net is gone.  To many artists this is terrifying and they refer to it as the “suicide run.” To Parkes, it is a stimulating challenge that he loves to meet ---one of the reasons for his more than 30 year love affair with stone lithography.

All of Michael Parkes stone lithographs are done with his direct participation - he draws on the stones, hand checks each print, and signs only those that meet his very exacting standards.  Because the printing process involves so much hand-work, each stone lithograph in an edition has slight differences from each other, and so they are individually numbered and one of a kind.  Many experts consider hand-drawn limited edition stone lithograph prints to be original works of fine art.
The Art of the Aurographics/Giclee Collection

The Aurographics/Giclée Collection brings fine museum quality reproductions of Michael Parkes’ work to a wider audience. The Aurographics Collection includes mixed media prints, giclee prints, and other reproduction mediums. Michael works directly with the premier digital atelier in Europe to create high resolution digital images. At times, Michael will personally make changes directly in the digital imagery to make the giclée print unique. Other times, the original is reproduced exactly.

Giclée prints are gaining widespread acceptance and auction value generally, and appear in several prestigious museum collections, including those of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Museum of Modern Art.

Quality: The prints in the Swan King Editions Aurographics Collection represent the highest quality of giclée prints available, and are backed by a solid guarantee (see below).  Since 2007, all of Michael Parkes giclees are printed at Re-Art in Amsterdam, one of the world’s premier digital fine art ateliers.  Re-Art is setting the standard for giclée printing worldwide and has been chosen by the world-renowned Rijksmuseum, Teylers Museum (the oldest museum in Holland) and the Rembrandt House Museum for their very exacting and precise reproductions that they require.

Process: The exceptional quality of Michael’s giclée begins with a photographic scan of an original.   Re-Art works with a Cruse Fine Art Table Scanner.   Museums like the Louvre, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam and most important museums worldwide are using this as the best system for art photography.   Michael then works with Re-Art to ensure that the digital image is exactly according to his standards of perfection and his unique esthetic.   Next, Michael reviews test proofs of the printed giclée to get to the final giclée print.

Printer: Parkes’ giclée are printed by Re-Art on state of the art printers at 2880 dpi using a piezo (rather than thermic) technology. This printer is the best available on the market.  

Inks: The inks used are real pigment inks.  No B-quality bulk inks, solvent inks, or dye inks are used.

Paper or Canvas: Depending on the effect that Michael desires to achieve for the new work, the prints are printed with archival quality inks onto canvas or archival paper.  All papers and canvases are acid free and contain no “optical brightener additives” or OBAs.  The papers and canvasses used are treated before printing with top quality coatings that affix and preserve the imagery.  These high-quality treated papers and canvasses are much more expensive than those typically used in the production of giclée today.

Longevity: Based on scientific test results of the materials Re-Art uses in the creation of Michael’s giclée, we feel comfortable saying that it is most likely that the giclée printed by Re-Art have a longevity between 50 and 300 years, depending upon how they are displayed.  If a giclée is museum conserved, it will last longer.  If it is displayed in full sun, its life will be shorter.
Guarantee:  All Michael Parkes giclées are backed by our own and Re-Art’s Certified Art Giclée guarantee.  Any giclée that fades or loses its color within 50 years of the date of its release will be replaced at no charge, provided the giclée is returned to us, and provided that it is not displayed directly in full sunlight.
The Art of Original Painting

Michael Parkes’ rare original paintings pair exquisite beauty with technical perfection. The viewer is drawn first to the impossibly pure elegance of Parkes’ paintings and then is transported to a world of repose, magic, myth and dreams. Even the most fantastic angel or beast is endowed with credible anatomy under Parkes’ meticulous brush. The attention to detail in Parkes’ paintings and the tremendous time invested in creating each of these art treasures is rare in a world where so many artists rush to paint a high volume of work to meet commercial demand.
The Art of Sculpture

Michael uses the ancient technique of lost wax for all of his sculptures.  See “lost wax” in wikipedia.  From the beginning of the first sketches of a sculpture idea to the final, first cast piece, it can take up to 6 months of work.  After doing many sketches of ideas, Michael will take the one that he likes the most and translate it into a three dimensional image in wax. Clay is used for the larger sculptures.  Detail work on the wax pieces is done with a covering of harder wax that can be carved if necessary.  All of the work, from the beginning of carving the wax to applying the finished patina is very labor and time intensive. Until recently, Michael worked in Tuscany, Italy, using the Marinelli foundry.  Michael now works with Piero Mussi and Family at the world famous Art Works Foundry in Berkeley, California.
The Art of the Granolitho

The granolitho process uses metal plates to create the artwork. One of the things special about this process is that the metal plates have no dot pattern like in offset printing but are completely tonal. It is a patented process that is only used by the renowned print shop Matthieu A.G., in Zurich, Switzerland. This revolutionary technique allows for artistic manipulation and interpretations to create the finished art. Each color printed in granolitho has its own surface and therefore the artist can adjust his creation at every step of the way. This may include the introduction of other printing methods like serigraph, embossing or even stone lithography into the granolitho process.  
Nudity in Michael’s Work

In regard to inquiries concerning the use of nudity in his work, Michael offer the following thoughts:

In the traditional subjects of mythology, legend and cosmology, the disrobed figure was an accepted and necessary form of expression in all civilizations, including our own. During the Italian Renaissance to the present day great masters have used nudity for their figures representing mythological and spiritual themes.
The advantage of using the nude was that it freed the human figure of its social and cultural context. The disrobed figure can remind us that a sense of freedom, a lack of shame, a fearlessness and a nobility of spirit are our inherent rights as human beings.
For example, in the painting ‘NightFlight’, I was exploring the legend of the Valkyries, or swan maidens in Teutonic mythology, a legend that dates back to the dawn of Western civilization. There are obviously certain symbols in the painting that place it firmly in this century; otherwise I would be just retelling the same old story.
Reconnecting with the mythos and the spiritual origins that are the foundation of our civilization is why I continue to paint. To reject tools, techniques and images that have been used for more than two thousand years to explore that terrain seem out of the question.
Museums are full of paintings and sculpture that use nudity, not for its shock value, but to express a unique type of allegory in which time and space lose their grip and the myth is able to live within us.
Artists Who Have Inspired Michael
I have great admiration for Rembrandt, Magritte, Klimt and many others. Some I love their technique and others I admire their subject matter. Among contemporary artists, the artist that restarted my career years ago is still a wonderful painter. His name is Jose Manuel Gomez and he lives Span.
What does the Edition Size mean?

The edition size tells you how many reproductions imprints of a particular   original work were produced at one time. Michael’s limited editions can be released as stone lithographs, sculptures giclees, granolithos, or other mixed media fine art works.  

Individual prints in an edition can be numbered or designated “EA” or “H.C.” all of which are included in the total edition size.

A reproduction can be expressed in many different mediums. In Michael’s studio, a reproduction is most often a meticulously-produced stone lithograph print, a fine art giclee, or a bronze sculpture.   The edition size is located at the bottom of his prints and on the base of his sculptures. This website describes the edition size in two numbers (example:  100 &  10 EA’s).   In this example, the first number tells you there are  100 works numbered 1/100 to 100/100 and the second number tells you there are  10 works signed  “EA” in addition to the numbered works (please see What are EA’s? and What are HC’s for more information). Michael often produces less than 100 prints of one image and less than 80 reproductions of a bronze sculpture.  

Almost all of Michael’s stone lithograph images are unique in that they do not exist in any other medium.

Michael says:  “Sometimes I start out with the idea of making an edition of 120 and everything goes wrong and I end up with an edition of 100 and no EA’s. Then other times things happen like the Dark Sphinx...I overestimated the amount of paper, nothing went wrong, and so I had too many EA’s and had to destroy some.   But the bottom line is that stone lithography is an art and you simply cannot regulate the EA’s and the total number in the edition so cleanly as you can a giclée litho. In Europe, where the stone lithography process began, they are more flexible with EA’s than in many states in the U.S.    We make the number of EA’s around ten percent of the edition size.”
What are EA’s?  

EA is French for Exemplar Artiste. Most of Michael’s editions include a small number of works signed EA in addition to the numbered works. The EA’s refer to the printmaking tradition of using the first printed works as proofs for the rest of the edition. Because Michael is a master printer, many of his EA prints do not require hand-correction and are identical in quality to the numbered prints. The few EA prints that Michael hand-proofs are one-of-a-kind artwork that are made available outside of the edition.
What are H.C.’s?  

Again, because stone lithography is an art, sometimes there are more than the planned edition size that the come off the stone as still-great images.   When that happens, we designate them  “H.C.” (hors de commerce) meaning outside the edition and not for sale, and they are not sold.
Why Choose a Swan King Authorized Dealer?

Swan King’s  authorized dealers purchase Michael’s artwork directly from us, and so the provenance for the work that you buy from an authorized dealer is impeccable. Work bought on the secondary market and from others may well be authentic, too. A lot of it is. But the only guarantee is when the work is purchased from a Swan King   authorized dealer.

What Can I Expect From An Authorized Dealer?

Our authorized dealers and their staff have invested time and education in studying the technique, imagery, and iconography of Michael’s artwork. They also promote Michael’s artwork and make it possible for him to continue to create new art. Because of this, they are the only ones where Michael makes personal appearances and shows. We guarantee all of Michael’s artwork that they sell because they embody Michael’s high standards of service, expertise, and art handling. They have a passion for Michael’s work that goes beyond the mere commercial. We love them, and we hope you will too.
Does Michael Make Appearances?  

Michael makes appearances in United States and European galleries usually about once a year. He is currently scheduled for a One Man Show in the U.S. September - October in 2016. For details please contact Mark L. Eaker at (650) 455-9932
Where Can I See Michael’s Artwork?  

Michael has a network of authorized galleries that extends throughout Europe and the United States.   Please contact  Swan King for an Authorized Gallery near you.
How Can I Purchase Artwork?

Please contact one of Michael’s authorized galleries thru Swan King for prices and availability of artwork.
What is Swan King ?

Swan King International  serves as Parkes’ exclusive publisher and agent internationally. Swan King  International coordinates the business aspects of Michael’s creative works, licensing, appearances, and relations with authorized dealers and galleries. For information, please email .
Required Legal Notices

California law provides for disclosure in writing of information concerning certain fine prints, photo-graphs, and sculptures prior to affecting a sale of them. This law requires disclosure of such matters as the identity of the artist, the artist’s signature, the medium, whether the multiple is a reproduction, the time when the multiple was produced, use of the plate which produced the multiple, and the number of multiples in a “limited edition.” If a prospective purchaser so requests, the information shall be transmitted to him or her prior to payment, or the placing of an order for a multiple. If payment is made by a purchaser prior to delivery of the multiple, this information will be supplied at the time of or prior to delivery, in which case the purchaser is entitled to a refund if, for reasons related to matter contained in such information, he or she returns the multiple in the condition in which received, within 30 days of receiving it. In addition, if after payment and delivery, it is ascertained that the information provided is incorrect, the purchaser may be entitled to certain remedies, including refund upon return of the multiple in the condition in which received.” Cal. Civ. Code  § 1742(b)