Carlos Cruz-Diez: Venezuelan philosopher of light, color, and movement.

Author:Bianco, Adriana
Position:Cover story
 
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Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Díez knows that color cannot be contained by form; it is light and atmosphere, time and space. Throughout his long career as an artist, Cruz-Díez has pursued the mysteries of color and optical mutations, leaving behind an important body of internationally recognized work. His art marks an entire period of history in Latin American art and has been a precursor of the kinetic movement and other visual vanguards.

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Born in Caracas on August 17, 1923, Cruz-Díez graduated asa teacher from the Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Aplicadas, worked as a graphic designer, and became a professor of art. Throughout his entire lifetime, he has continued to develop his creative work through investigations of movement and the phenomenology of color. In his early years as an artist, he was interested in social realism but then evolved toward geometric compositions. Today, he works on spatial and chromatic installations.

In the 1950s, Cruz-Díez left figurative art behind and began optical studies of color. He lived for a time in Europe and then returned to Venezuela to create the Estudio de Artes Visuales where he continued his research and investigation. In 1960, he moved to Paris and participated in the kinetic art movement, an emerging idea in Europe propelled by Latin American artists who were looking for a new aesthetic focused on movement, light, and optical transformations.

The work of Cruz-Díez is characterized by a search for optic vibration and chromatic sensation in relation to space and to the spectator, within a notion of constant change, participation, and playful expression. This work has had several phases. In his first phase, he used black and white, diverse rhythms, colored cylinders, and optical modulations. In the 1970s, he created several series motivated by chromatic concepts that he developed throughout his career. Some of his kinetic experiments can be seen in his "Physichromies." Later, he delved into color phenomena and mutations in environments and worked with a variety of non-traditional materials like Plexiglas, fibers and metal, and elements of light. In the Chromosaturations series, he created saturated spaces of color that make an impact on the viewer-participant and provoke a variety of psychological responses.

For Cruz-Díez, the dialectic between the work of art and the viewer is fundamental, as is ongoing research, teaching, and discussion of ideas. During the 1970s and 80s, he taught courses on visual techniques at the Sorbonne and directed the Art Unit of the Institute of Advanced Studies (IDEA) in Caracas.

The works of Cruz-Díez are found in museums in Europe, in the United States, and in Latin America including: the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York; Tate Modern in London; the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston; the Museum of Contemporary Art of Montreal; the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris; the Museo de Arte Reina Sofía of Madrid...

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