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Fine-Art Chameleon

(June/July 2018) posted on Thu Jun 21, 2018

Michel Caza’s 55 years as a leading fine-art serigrapher set him apart as a pioneer in screen printing.


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By Steve Duccilli

How challenging? Imagine doing a reproduction of a painting that had been done entirely in cosmetics, which never dry. Or a print on ocher paper without the use of white ink. Or a dress designed by Paco Rabanne composed entirely of small aluminum panels that would be printed with famous monuments. Or a job that had already been gravure and offset printed – on lambskin – for one of the most famous artists in the world. All of these unique projects, and thousands more, are detailed in the richly illustrated volume.

 Johannes Vermeer, “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” 2002 reproduction: The Japanese client who commissioned this reproduction wanted the print to appear as though the 1665 masterpiece had just been painted. Caza spent 44 hours in Photoshop painstakingly removing the cracks from the original.

 

Along the way, Caza introduces us to some fascinating characters. Beyond the artists themselves, whose geniuses and eccentricities are detailed in equal measure, Caza crossed paths with heads of museums, heads of state (including a French president and two prime ministers), celebrity fashion designers, film producers, radicals, protesters, and (sadly) more than a few unscrupulous clients. 



Though he sold his business in 2005, Caza, at 83, remains an active force in the industry, continuing to speak, consult, and take on occasional art projects (including a recent commission from FESPA that involved reproducing two paintings done by his wife and business partner, Thérèse). In an interview conducted by e-mail, Caza discussed the new book, the current limited-edition art market, and highlights from his extraordinary career.

 

SP: You seem destined to have been in the arts – your father a caricaturist, your grandfather a noted post-impressionist, your uncle and brother also painters – yet you found screen printing accidentally. Why did it change your life?

July 26, 1954 was a crucial date in my life. One that would decide – without my knowing – my entire future. Life, work, marriage, new learning, fame, divorce, children… everything depended on a few minutes in Stockholm in a phone booth! In my book, I describe the phone conversation in detail and I won’t repeat it here, but it was the “key moment” that determined my life to come – and unbeknownst to me, my encounter with screen printing.


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