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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

Screen printing is often considered a minor art and believed to produce only “flat tones” or, as in the US, needing dozens of colors to bring a certain subtlety to the modulations of tones. This was something I totally rejected, and that is why I invented the “halftone without dots” in 1965 – allowing me to completely modulate the colors in all their possible variations, at competitive prices, without using the mechanical dots of traditional halftone that I reserved for posters and pure “reproduction” work. Many artists around the world loved my technique, including, later, “hyperrealists” who were delighted to use it. 

Leonor Fini, “Guardian of the Sources,” 1975 original print: Considered one of the most important female artists of the 20th century, Fini worked with Caza on more than 120 original prints over a 15-year period.

 

An amusing paradox also arrived at this time and throughout the ‘70s, as American, French, and German artists in “optical art” (for example, geometric abstraction, kinetic, etc.) needed beautiful flat tones! Michael Domberger, Wilfredo Arcay [the Cuban-born artist and printmaker], and I benefited a lot from this development.

 



This is a deeply personal book. At one point, you say: “I lost quite a personal part of my soul as an artist/collaborator.” It seems to get to the root of your theme that you were a “chameleon” in your art career.

I did not realize, at the beginning, that by being a substitute for artists, to be – with their active complicity, of course – their “chameleon,” that I would lose my personal style. I have worked with so many different artists practicing all the current art forms from naïve to lyrical abstraction and hyperrealism, often in the same week or the same day. It was necessary to adapt myself to everything, and to use my technique and my art to recreate the ideas, even the “tics,” of different artists. 

 

Fine-art printing is often considered a craft, yet it seems that some of your most important technological advancements, such as your continuous-tone technique, emerged from your art business. Did innovation from your advertising business drive the creativity of your art collaborations, and vice versa?


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