The Artwork of Raymond ‘Czanara’ Carrance
Born in Paris on the twenty-fourth of January in 1921, Raymond Carrance was a French photographer and book illustrator whose work became known under the name Czanara. One of the little-known erotic artists of the twentieth-century, he began his career as a costume and set designer for theatrical companies and as a graphic designer for commercial brands, among which was France’s mineral water company Perrier.
In the 1940s and 1950s, Raymond Carramce was commissioned to create elaborate etchings and lithographs as illustrations for published editions by author Pierre Jules Renard and playwright Cyrano de Bergerac. He also illustrated a 1951 edition of Henry du Montherlant’s classic theatrical play “La Ville Dont le Prince Est un Enfant (The City Whose Prince is a Child)”. Clarrance also received a commission for seventeen copper engravings as signed illustrations for a 1971 limited edition folio which included writer Jean Giono’s “Le Chant du Monde: Bourg-Le-Reine (The Song of the World)”. This folio was a special tribute to Jean Giono who had passed away on the eighth of October in 1970.
As a photographer, Carrance’s private catalogue of homoerotic work is reminiscent of the magical-realist style of his contemporaries, the painters Paul Cadmus and Jared French. His images are simple compositions without extensive detail, distinctly European in style and reverential in nature. Carrance’s unique work contained both simple nude portraits and dreamlike scenes composed with overlaid graphics. The desired atmosphere of these collaged male nude scenes was established by layers of superimposed photographs depicting props, flowers, bodily details, or simple patterns and shadows. Carrance exhibited both his photographic and illustrative work in several venues throughout Paris during the 1960s and 1970s.
Raymond Carrance died in Paris on the fourth of June in 1998 at the age of seventy-seven. He passed in obscurity without heirs; his entire body of work was sold at auction. Carrance’s work was rediscovered by art collector David Deiss who acquired the contents of Carrance’s atelier from a Lyon bookseller upon his death. Focused on the discovery of unknown artists of significance, Deiss is responsible for publishing the 2007 monograph “Czanara: Photographs and Drawings”, an imprint of Carrance’s work through Antinous Press. This imprint was the first book published by creative director Sam Shahid’s new press.
Nicole Canet, publisher and owner of the Parisian gallery “Au Bonheur du Jour”, exhibited her collection of Carrance’s drawings and photographs at her gallery in 2010. The gallery and its publishing arm are known for their focus on early European homoerotic photographers; Canet is recognized for her work as a researcher and archivist of sexual sociology in Paris.
Note: For those interested, the Wessel + O’Connor Fine Art gallery has an extensive collection of Raymond Carrance’s photographs, drawings and engravings on their site. The gallery also carries the work of such artists as Jim French, Jean Cocteau and Greg Gorman, among others. Their site is located at: https://wesseloconnor.com/exhibits/czanara/index.php
Top Insert Image: Raymond Carrance, “Flanders, Belgium”, circa 1950-1960s, Vintage Print, 24 x 18 cm, Private Collection
Bottom Insert Image: Raymond Carrance, “Venice”, circa 1950-1940s, Vintage Print, 18 x 17 cm, Private Collection