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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

Over the course of a remarkable, six-decade career, Michel Caza has done it all in specialty printing. Co-founder of FESPA (and a board member for 44 years); author of hundreds of technical articles and six books; winner of more than 350 SGIA and FESPA awards; lecturer who has taught advanced techniques to thousands of students around the globe; technology developer noted, among many achievements, as the pioneer of a continuous tone process that was decades ahead of its time – it is the CV of perhaps the world’s most famous printer.

Yet it was Caza’s work in fine-art serigraphy that drew him the most acclaim, and not just inside the industry. Between 1960 and 2015, Caza produced nearly 2400 projects including original serigraphs, reproductions, art posters, catalogs, and other unique works – every one of them screen printed. He worked with 720 artists in all, including some of the most celebrated of the modern era.  

In May, Caza celebrated this legacy with the release of a new book chronicling his many adventures in the fine arts. Michel Caza: The Chameleon of Contemporary Art traces the unlikely path that began in 1954 in Stockholm, where Caza was a jazz-obsessed university student intending to stay for a month – he stayed for 19 – while working on his sociology degree. The story takes us through jazz clubs where Caza did frescoes of famous musicians and later took the stage as a singer, then to the finest restaurants of Stockholm, where he would draw caricatures of the establishments’ best customers in exchange for his meals. Finally, and purely by chance, he discovered his true calling.

An early print demonstrating Caza’s innovative “halftone without dots” continuous tone process. As demand for such reproductions grew, Caza developed a technique of printing the images on a thin canvas that he then laminated to linen to enhance their appeal.

In 1965, a year after opening his first business, Caza’s fine-art career took off after he applied his new continuous-tone technique to a Renoir reproduction, leading to sizable demand for similar projects featuring the works of other masters. Soon, artists and publishers from around the world sought him out, not just for his exceptional quality but also his reputation for finding ingenious solutions to difficult projects.


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