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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

From this crucial day forward, everything was linked in a crazy but inexorable logic. These “accidents” brought with them others. I started to sing jazz and, on one occasion, I met a “fan,” Anita, who became my first wife. She worked in a famous screen printing workshop, BMJ, where I did a little work (under the table) in the evening. I found it much more fun and interesting than the psychosociology I was supposed to be writing a thesis on. I worked full time for six months at BMJ and learned all the basics of screen printing. I went back to France, did my required military service, and started screen printing at friends’ shops. Then came practice and research in graphic screen printing, with many inventions in the ‘50s and ‘60s. 

First one workshop, then a second, and a third, etc. They grew, and I started with POS displays and, of course, began art printing in 1960. 

 Salvador Dali, “The Alchemy of  Philosophers: The King and the Queen,” 1973 original print: Considered one of Dali’s greatest masterpieces, this oversized book featured 10 prints that combined gravure, lithography, and screen printing. Caza devised techniques for printing the unusual substrate: lambskin.

 


Your timing was impeccable. You entered printing just as the pop artists were creating new possibilities in the silk-screened poster. Did you realize what the developing limited-edition market could mean for printers with the ability to help artists realize their visions – an opportunity you and German printer Michael Domberger are often credited as being the first to see?

At that time, the pop artists, even if known in New York, were almost unknown in Europe. Poldi Domberger, his son Michael, and I – although not the only art screen printers in Europe – saw a particularly high potential in the art print market.

Between 1960 and 1973 (the first crisis), there was a wave of galleries selling lithographs, serigraphs, engravings, and art posters. The idea Michael and I developed was to provide the growing middle classes of France and Germany with affordable images to decorate their apartments, offices, and factories. With pictorial works and sculptures often too expensive, there was a niche market for both the “upscale” original print and more modest art poster. Additionally, we both wanted to fight the domination of the market by lithography and engraving.


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