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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

I never wanted to create a separation between art and industrial screen printing techniques that I developed, perfected, and even invented. It was the same for the members of my team. Whether in technical or advertising printing or in art, they participated in all of the work with the artists and it was a “win-win.” The artists helped them to refine their knowledge of the color and effects, and they gave to the artists the resources of their technical expertise to help them in their “re-creations” in serigraphy. 

 

You took on many projects that required a great deal of innovation to complete. Talk about a few that stand out. 

I developed the relief printing of “brush strokes” for Salvador Dali when we realized the famous portfolio of “Alchemy of the Philosophers.” It must be remembered that in 1974, special capillary films did not yet exist that could have more easily achieved the effect. I had to imagine a special technique to obtain these reliefs of ink. The following year, it was Ernst Fuchs who asked me to use this technique for another huge portfolio, “The Original Kabbalah.” 



Later, in 1979, Dan Reisinger asked me to re-use my relief technique in the 53 prints of his enormous portfolio, “Scrolls of Fire,” on the symbolic history of the Jewish Diaspora. 

With Dali, I had other adventures – some funny, and some that could have been catastrophic! As long as there was no audience who expected his theatrical grandeur, Dali was a great professional with whom it was very pleasant to work. I recall how he often signed his parchment prints in his swimming pool in Cadaqués. Once, he dropped one in the water while he was signing it. This was for the “Alchemy of Philosophers,” where I learned after taking on the job that the “parchment” would actually be lambskin. Four thousand sheep died for that portfolio! So Dali dropped one of the prints and we fished it out of the pool, but the lambskin became a very small, hard, dry roll. Unrecoverable! 

Or, less comical, when the publisher later informed me of a fungal invasion in the corners of many of these famous prints, impossible to remove! I found a rather special remedy: to overprint fungus shapes using a transparent ink in the non-invaded parts to “unify” the whole body and to give them a purposeful appearance. 


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