Millions of people
have seen John Casado's work without knowing it.
He was the graphic designer who created the logos for New Line Cinema,
Esprit and the first Macintosh computers. He also designed album covers
for the Allman Brothers, Carole King and others.
His advertising and fashion photographs now appear in catalogs and magazines
worldwide. But the work that's been Casado's passion for the past decade
-- his fine art photography -- had never been seen publicly until May
13, when his painterly, abstracted nudes went on display at San Francisco's
City Picture Frame.
Inspired by the grainy softness of French Fresson printing, Casado experimented
with the chemical makeup of his paper and developer to achieve the gauzy
textures and shifting grays, off-whites and greenish-brown tones of
these engaging pictures.
"I love that concept of blurring the line between drawing and photography,"
said Casado, 57, who began studying art as a kid in Los Angeles and
made abstract paintings for years. "I happen to use a camera and photograph
to do my drawings."
These 18 works draw on a wide range of inspirations, from modernist
photographers like Steichen and Weston to Matisse, African art and Jungian
psychology. Some focus on a male figure whose sinewy body Casado has
abstracted and "reassembled" in dynamic sculptural forms, dark volumes
playing off light negative space. Others present softly blurred women
whose bodies have been subtly elongated or partially dissolved by light.
These dreamy textures have the feeling of "coming out of a deep sleep,"
Casado says, "when your eyes can't quite focus. You know what's there,
but certain aspects of it are in and out of focus, and it changes as
you look at it."
Casado has often changed his focus. A graduate of Pasadena's Art Center
College of Design, he was art director at Young & Rubicam Advertising
before going to work for the great movie-title designer Saul Bass. Forming
his own firm, Casado designed a slew of album covers, winning a Grammy
in 1974 for Mason Proffit's "Come and Gone."
Tired of that scene, Casado moved to San Francisco in 1981 and got into
corporate work. In addition to images for Esprit and Apple, he designed
ads shot by top photographers like Richard Avedon and Irving Penn. Ready
for another change, he closed his lucrative firm in the early '90s and
took a year off to mull his next move.
His friend Olivero Toscani, famous for his controversial Benetton ads,
told him: "You made my life miserable when I took pictures for you,
because you wanted to tell me how to take every one. Why don't you just
become a photographer and do it yourself?"
Casado took the advice. But he never intended to focus on the figure
when he began making fine art photographs. The greatest painters and
photographers had done nudes, he says, and "how could I compete with
that?" But after shooting some nudes as light studies (and for a model
friend's portfolio), he couldn't resist the challenge.
He reels off the names of artists who came to mind -- Matisse, Brancusi,
Stieglitz, Lipchitz. They're linked by "the strength of their deduction
of the body," Casado says. "They understood the body has these wonderful
forms that can be stretched, moved and reassembled." That fascinated
him. "You can move a body into forms you ordinarily wouldn't see."
In one picture, a man appears upside down on his shoulders, hanging
from above or growing from below, arms and fingers outstretched like
tree roots. In another he's curled into a powerfully compact form that
suggests a black cauliflower or headless Rodin bronze.
There's a beautiful picture of a woman kneeling in an empty room, arms
stretched along her thighs. Inspired by a sliver of moonlight coming
into his home, Casado built a special Polaroid camera to capture the
image, shot in a dark room with a crack of light coming through a window.
"This is about what would you do if you were in the dark by yourself,
with no one around to see you. This is as close as I could get to voyeurism,"
Casado says. Nudity, of course, is no longer shocking, but "what can
shock people is what they feel when they look at a photograph. Give
them a reason why they could put themselves into the picture.
"I've had people say, 'John, I love this photograph, but I would never
want to live with it. I don't want to wake up in the morning and be
faced with this aspect of myself.' To me, that's a success. It triggered
Dituri is a photographer who likes to transform the everyday, the recognizable
and the obvious into images that border on the surreal. His play on
rich black and white tonalities and composition heighten the overall
mystery of his often somber images and give his work a unique esthetic
effect and individual style. As a world traveler his work is influenced
by his experiences. Mr. Dituri’s artwork is continuously exhibited in
the United States, Europe and Asia. He has had numerous catalogs and
books of his images published and has been reviewed by many important
publications. His photographs can be found in many private and public
collections. Mr. Dituri has been teaching full time for over thirty-two
years and has given many workshops on photography worldwide. He is currently
in the art department at C.W. Post, Long Island University and is also
a teaching artist for the LTA/Guggenheim Museum Program.
Quite unconsciously, a body/ landscape motif entered
my photographs, a result of living on islands in Greece during a year’s
fellowship twenty years ago. I loved to watch the light change hourly
on the mountains that joined the sea like giant birds gliding into water.
As my photographic vocabulary evolved during that year, those fascinating
surroundings rematerialized within my water nudes. Thus began an inspirational
dialogue with nature, continued first in Greece and then on Cape Cod,
where my settings grew to include woods and dunes. The infrared images,
shot in those new environments, further explore harmonious resonances,
as the body takes on the character of dune or atmosphere.
My desire to photograph nudes was born of the water, of a passion for
being in and meditating upon still waters. Wanting to make statements
about human nature as I had before in portraits and street pictures,
I sought a way to photograph people in water to create images of a psychological,
dreamlike, and emotive nature. When I began the Nudes in Water series
in 1975, I felt that water, the source of all life, should display an
equivalent density to flesh, invoking a cauldron of creation and a visceral
visual connection between body and nature. These motivations were to
become the foundation for all photographs that followed.
Between 1981 and 1988, before resuming the Nudes in Water on Cape Cod,
I worked on several other series of nudes. My first experiments with
the figure in color used 4x5 and 8x10 Polaroid prints and melded multiple
exposures of flesh into literal and imaginery layers. Then, Fusion Forms,
a series of black and white multiple exposure solarizations, recombined
body forms into surreal sculptures. Interior Nudes, elemental figure
studies taken indoors between 1983 and 1986, led to later series of
In 1986, inspired by the play of light on the southwestern desert, where
the colors of sandstone suggest flesh, I began photographing the land
directly. I think of these landscapes as studies for my nudes. In 1991,
in a series titled Canyon Nudes, the figure reappears as reflections
in puddles which merge with clay or rock to form geodes, frescos, or
shards of life. Fusing sunlight and bluer shade, these images exist
within a surreal color world. But the most constant pulse in my photography
is the black and white figure in nature, represented in this exhibition
A surrealistic sensibility plays in and out of these images—we are so
often driven by forces beyond our awareness. Transformation, paradox,
and the simultaneity of conscious and unconscious worlds are evoked
throughout these pages. They appear in a nude’s white flesh becoming
black flesh, in a body’s back becoming the texture of the rock nearby,
in underwater and abovewater worlds coexisting, in a human form appearing
amphibious, or in water transforming into opaque blackness. Often there
is a tension between overtones of life and death.
I consider my images most successful when their “objective” reality
is countered with several levels of ambiguity and mystery, so that what
they seem to be is stronger than what they are. Water and light are
often my allies in reaching this goal of illusion. Together, they create
reflections and shadows that transform body, rock, or reed forms; they
illuminate transparent underwater worlds or bring into being metallic
crucibles of life.
by Karin Rosenthal, from the catalog Karin Rosenthal: Twenty Years of
amazing to realize Tseno’s youth in age while analyzing his achievements
and the complexity of his talent. The uniqueness of his talent lies
in his ability to observe and grasp the essence of reality, which makes
his art close to the classical models in photography. At the same time,
his diverse point of view and creative interpretations transform him
into a conceptual modern artist with a discovering spirit. When viewing
his pictures you are involved in a revelation for the human spirit.
Tseno has rear vision for lighting, composition and understanding of
tonal change. His ability to communicate his ideas is supported by exceptional
knowledge and skills in the entire process black and white photography
and tonal sense.
His art works have been exhibited and published in many countries including
Bulgaria, Canada, Italy, France, Check Republic and United States. Tseno
was well-recognized editor and photojournalist with strong social position
in primary press groups in Bulgaria. Tsvetan Tsenov has over then years
of experience as a freelance photographer with advertising agencies,
record labels, publishers and cinema houses.
The importance of his artistic talent becomes significant for the contemporary
Bulgarian culture after the publication of his photo album “B&W Photography”1994.
Most influential Bulgarian art gallery ”Alexander” recognized it with
grand opening followed by National TV and radio coverage.
Tseno has been awarded in international contest of “Photargus” magazine,
Paris with Grand Prize for Portrait photography in 1997.
In the period of 1991 till 2002 he had eight solo exhibitions, four
of them in Benham Studio Gallery- Seattle. They had significant cultural
impact and contributed to Tseno’s reputation as an established American
North West artist. He is a member of Benham residential program. His
pictures are displayed in private collections in Paris, Rome, Los Angeles,
Dublin, Sofia, Vancouver, Portland, Vidin and Seattle.
His newest works are continued search to defiant alternative process
to maximize the technical flexibility in expressing his ideas. He is
working on new body of work devoted to glorify spiritual beauty.