Michel Caza’s 55 years as a leading fine-art serigrapher set him apart as a pioneer in screen printing.
Jean-Claude Flock, original print, 1983: This print, intended as a double homage to the recently deceased Hergé and Andy Warhol, took on extra significance when Caza was able to get Warhol to countersign it during a visit to New York. Warhol died in 1987.
I imagine that you won’t miss the business side of art publishing. Your work brought you into contact with some unscrupulous and highly volatile personalities.
Unfortunately, this phenomenon of “almost” fraudulent sales, even quasi or real scams, has been somewhat aggravated by the internet. In addition, digital printing makes it even easier to produce quality printing, which can be perceived as genuine by an audience often unknowledgeable of fine art.
On many websites specializing in fine-art sales, the “waltz of the labels,” is equally surprising. The price differences are often staggering for what, according to the descriptive text, date, size, technique, etc. is assumed to be the real thing. If you see the same image, often with several formats, you can be sure that it’s a simple reproduction, not an original print. It goes (or should, rather) without saying, that a Warhol serigraph, or a lithograph by Miró, Dali, or Picasso going for $20 or even $200, is in fact a simple reproduction. I confess to being a little skeptical regarding some online auction sellers; many of them leave me with little doubt after researching their sites, even recognizing some of my own works. However, let’s not paint things blacker than they are! There are many publishers and galleries, many online, that are perfectly honest.
You never worked directly with Andy Warhol, though you met him and became ironically linked with his work after he died. It must have been an honor to have been asked to explain his process for the documentary film, “My Name is Andy Warhol.”
Well, frankly, I do not consider that I was “honored” when a TV channel asked me to do this shoot in my studio. For me, it was an all-natural thing! Many people have known for years (I first met Warhol in 1965) that I was a bit of a “Warhol specialist” in France. This is largely thanks to my friend, the famous New York gallery owner Leo Castelli, who gave me the reprints of Warhol’s “Four Flowers” for Nouvelles Images in 1975. And then there was the double tribute to Hergé and Warhol in 1983, the year that Hergé died and four years before Andy’s death. I had the opportunity to chat with Andy several times but never worked directly with him. Funny enough, when I met with him at The Factory in the late ‘70s, Andy told me that in reference to the work that Domberger and I were doing, “your silkscreens are too beautiful and sophisticated for me!” After this movie, I continued to “Warholize” with Chanel, Ladurée, and Absolut Vodka, as I tell in the book.
And what is next for Michel Caza? Will you continue to speak, work on limited editions, perhaps more works from Thérèse?
Of course, I will continue! In art, especially with Fabienne Verdier, with my wonderful Thérèse too if the opportunity arises, and with my students, for whom I happen to prepare files and simulations. I also remain a technician and consultant for whoever may need my advice in the world. I will continue to write articles, lecture, participate as a judge in competitions. Why the hell should I stop? I have no desire to become an angler somewhere in Scotland. After all, I’m only 83 years old and my future is not only my past!
Michel Caza: The Chameleon of Contemporary Art was published in May and debuted at FESPA ’18 in Berlin. To order a copy, visit cazamichel-artedition.com. Read more from Screen Printing's June/July 2018 issue.
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