Carlos Cruz Diez
All the cities in the World
Carlos Cruz-Diez in front of his work Cromoestructura [Chromostructure], 2015, Edificio Kenex Plaza, Obarrio Panama, Republic of Panama. North Facade: 9,36 x 42,5 m (31 x 139 ft.); West Facade: 9,36 x 36,25 m (31 x 119 ft.) © Photo: Articruz / Rafael Guillén © Adagp, Paris 2018
Born in 1923, Carlos Cruz Diez is a Franco-Venezuelian major artist of the XXth and XXIst century. He first went to Europe in 1955 and lived in El Masnou (Cataluña, Spain), where he began a defining phase in his career, creating his earliest abstract compositions (Parénquimas) and his first Objetos Rítmicos Móviles [Mobile Rhythmic Objects]. He visited Paris that same year, where he saw the Le Mouvement exhibition at the Galerie Denise René. In 1956 he quit producing figurative social protest painting and returned to Venezuela, where he opened the Estudio de Artes Visuales, a visual arts studio for graphic and industrial design. It was during that period that Carlos Cruz-Diez started developing the conceptual platform for his work based on optical and chromatic phenomena, a process that led to the creation of his first Color Aditivo [Additive Color] and Fisicromía 1, in 1959. He and his family settled in Paris in 1960, where he met and discussed his ideas with international artists such as Agam, Tinguely, Soto, Buri, Picelj, Morellet, Camargo, Lygia Clark, Le Parc, Calder, and Vasarely.
Carlos Cruz-Diez articulated his exploration of the phenomenon of color in eight projects: Couleur Additive [Additive Color], Physichromie, Induction Chromatique [Chromatic Induction], Chromointerférence [Chromo-Interference], Transchromie, Chromosaturation, Chromoscope, and Couleur à l’Espace [Color in Space]. His works present color as an autonomous reality that evolves in space and time, unaided by form or support, in a perpetual present. In the late 1960s, he produced a number of installations for urban landscapes in Caracas, Miami, Washington, Houston, Paris, Seoul, Sao Paulo, Panama, and Madrid, among other metropolitan areas. He is recognized as one of the greatest artists and innovators of the XXth and XXIst century.
“Through my research I try to find nontraditional solutions to the perception of the chromatic world and to art concept. I’m a researcher and from a very early age, I have always thought art is communication. The artist does not only have to make pieces for collections and museums, but also to be present in urban spaces and in any environment that implies a collectivity.” - Carlos Cruz Diez
“I believe that a piece of art integrated in the city or habitat, has to generate unprecedented events, which are in permanent evolution. It is a way to extend its “call and reading” in time, creating a circumstance that differentiates it from the utilitarian object of urban furniture. The pieces I make for the habitat and urban surroundings are conceived as a plastic discourse generated in real time and space, creating “situations” and “chromatic events” that change the dialectics between the observer and the artwork. My works do not withhold a “referential speech”, like Gothic art, the Renaissance or even Mexican muralists did. They are raised from a different starting point, where real time and space replace referral or transposed time.” - Carlos Cruz Diez
“They are supports of events that change and evolve. My artworks are “realities” and “autonomous situations”. “Realities”, because the events take place in time and space, and “autonomous” because they don’t depend on anecdotic content that the viewer is accustomed to see in art. They are pieces that allow us to establish a different relation to knowledge. The audience discovers their capacity to create or destroy color through their own perceptive ways. They discover “color in the making”, surging and disappearing before their own eyes.” - Carlos Cruz Diez
Ambientación de Color Aditivo [Additive Color Environment], 1974 Simón Bolívar International Airport Maiquetía (Caracas), Venezuela, 1974 - 270 x 9 m (886 x 30 ft.) Architects: F. Montemayor, L. Sully © Photo: Atelier Cruz-Diez Paris © Adagp, Paris 2018
Plafond Physichromie [Ceiling Physichromie], 1980 Passenger platform at the railway station SaintQuentin-en-YvelinesFrance (Paris),104 x 7,20 m (341 x 24 ft.) Architect: R. Moro © Photo: Atelier Cruz-Diez Paris © Adagp, Paris 2018
Ambientación Cromática [Chromatic Environment], 1977-1986 Simón Bolívar Hydroelectric Station, Engine Room n°1 Guri, Venezuela 26 x 260 x 23 m (85 x 853 x 75 ft.) Engineers: H. Roo, A. Gamboa, E. Carrera, G. Chavarri © Photo: Atelier Cruz-Diez Paris © Adagp, Paris 2018
Environnement Chromatique, 2014 OneCityCenter’s Covington & Burling LLP hall building Washington, D.C., United States 2 Physichromies of 370 x 305 cm and 461 x 380 cm 1 Transchromie of 200 x 3460 cm Architect: Debra Lehman-Smith (LSM) © Photo: Atelier Cruz-Diez Paris © Adagp, Paris 2018 This article has been published in partnership with UNFOLD Art Exchange and the Atelier Cruz Diez. Special thanks to Rachel Rekkab and Carlos Cruz Delgado.