If you like I were lucky enough to be collecting film music during the early 1960,s and through to the present day, I hope that you would have also noticed the wonderfully detailed and colourful art work that accompanied some of the LP record releases, I was particularly fond of the Italian soundtrack releases, especially western scores that were released on the CAM label. CAM were one of the worlds foremost and active soundtrack labels. Their releases were great for collectors as they often included two soundtracks on one record.
CD ART CAM LP ART.
One of the first LPs I got on the CAM label was A MAN A HORSE AND A GUN, the music was by Stelvio Cipriani and on the flip side we had THE BELLE STARR STORY music by French composer Charles Dumont. But, I have to say here and now it was not either of the composers or indeed my knowledge of the music that sold the soundtrack to me, it was the striking art work, as I stood in The Arts Theatre Club Foyer, talking to Michael Jones. I just could not take my eyes off the cover and decided to buy it there and then, of course the score is iconic, and is filled with everything good bad and ugly from the Italian western school of film music, it remains still a treasured possession and one I would never part with.
The same can be said for SENTENZA DI MORTE, again it was the art work for the LP which convinced me I have to own this, and of course later the love of the music just happened. These are just two examples of some of the mesmerising and finely crafted art work that adorns so many Italian soundtrack releases. These images are the work of the Maestro of the Movie Poster world Renato Casaro. This talented artist has provided the art work on so many movie posters and also in turn these images have been used on soundtrack releases. It was not only Italian movies that the artist worked his magic for, he also worked on numerous films in Europe, Gt. Britain and America, his style and vivid artistry being instantly recognisable after a while.
He established himself as the most sought-after artist for the cinema and became firm friends with Dino De Laurentis, Sergio Leone and Bernardo Bertolucci to name but a few. To list all of his work I think would be almost impossible but say this the artist has kept a comprehensive library of his art which I am told is unusual. Born in Treviso which is located in Northern Italy in 1935, the artist came from a family who in his own words were not particularly skilled in that direction. His passion for the cinema manifested it self when he was very young, Renato often attending the cinema every day, and his love for the images on screen soon spread to the posters that were displayed at the picture houses advertising the film being shown or advertising up and coming attractions. He would often go to the cinema and ask for the posters, taking them home to study them and then eventually attempting to paint copies of them.
His study of the posters and his understanding of how certain artists worked soon convinced Renato that this is what he wanted to do as a career. He also began to recognise the work of certain artists, Angelo Cesselon for example, but the young artist was taken more with the style of Norman Rockwell, who he regarded as the Maestro. Because there was no art college or any way of enrolling in a course to allow him to learn the skills he knew that he would require, Renato decided that he had to leave Treviso and move to Rome. Before this however, he worked for an advertising agency who promoted food drink and various other commodities, such as wine, his first major advertising illustration being for PANATONNE CAKE.
He then managed to convince a cinema to let him work for them painting images of movies that they were showing on a wall for all to see. He took photographs of these and decided at 20 years of age he had to go to the Italian capital, he showed his work to STUDIO FAVALLI who worked for numerous film companies, and they liked what they saw and asked Renato to go for an interview, the interview went well and it secured him a position on the team of Augusto Favalli. Because the team at FAVALLI was small, Renato soon became noticed for his work and it was not long before he was working steadily and learning various techniques from the artist Renato Frantini.
It was also at this time that he got to meet his idols such as Angelo Casselon and from there on began to understand the polished and creative flair that they had and incorporating certain techniques into his own work. Augusto Favalli was also the owner of LUX films in Rome so at times would hire a major artist to create a poster for a production, thus Renato would have contact with these and all the time be learning. One of the posters Renato worked on whilst at Favalli studios was ATTILA which was a Sophia Loren movie, after a year at the studio he was told that he should become a freelance artist and work independently, he prepared a portfolio of his work and presented it to various movie distributors, his work was met with much enthusiasm, he was like a breath of fresh air in the industry as many of the artists who worked on movie posters had been doing this for many years, and as the styles and tastes of cinema began to change distributors saw that they needed a fresh approach to keep the public interested. He soon established himself as a trusted and fast worker, in fact many of his clients called him RENATO FA PRESTO which loosely translated means, DOES QUICKLY.
He soon established his own studio and worked for small distributors on independent movies and B films rather than concentrating on trying to become involved on major movies, it was at this time also that he began to perfect his style because the smaller distributors were happy to let him be creative and experiment.
At the age of 21 he was called up into the Italian Military but was fortunate enough to be assigned to creating posters that promoted the forces, so whilst in the army he still carried on perfecting his craft, at times working on Military posters by day and in the evenings painting film posters. After his military service he began to work again creating art for films and was commissioned to work on the poster for the Italian release of THE MAGNIFICENT 7.
In 1966 Renato began to work for Dino Di Laurentis, the first commission being for THE BIBLE, after this he worked on projects such as WATERLOO, CONAN THE BARBARIAN, FLASH GORDON and the ill-fated DUNE.
The artist went from strength to strength working on major movies such as Leones THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA, and FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, his art work has adorned so many posters for films such as, OCTOPUSSY, NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN, RED SONJA, TOTAL RECALL, THE BIG GUNDOWN and a plethora of Italian made westerns, Giallo movies, Horror films and Romances. Renato Casaro is unique and highly innovative, his art is striking and colourful and has an almost hypnotic affect upon anyone who studies the images, each time you look you find something that maybe was not there the first time you looked, it is so detailed and finely tuned.
Look in your collection of Italian soundtracks and find the signature, I bet you its his.