CRUZ-DÍEZ, Carlos (1923-)

Diptych : Acrylic painting and metal
150 x 294 cm
Date of entry at UNESCO
Country of origin Venezuela
Acquisiton made by UNESCO in 1978
© Photo: Atelier Cruz-Diez
Carlos Cruz-Díez. All rights reserved

Influenced by the work of Jesús Rafael Soto, Carlos Cruz-Díez began studying the physical properties of color, developing his own theories during the 1950s, which he puts to practice as of 1959 with his “Physichromies”.

This “Physichromie” is a diptych composed of metal and acrylic paint. The artist essentially uses three pastel colors: blue, pink, and yellow. With these colors as his starting point, he fractures the form of the painting, transforming a flat, painted surface into a succession of vertically positioned, parallel lines.

These alternating and discontinuous geometric shapes emerge, intensify, change, and dematerialize, depending on the position and the movement of the spectator. The work is thus inscribed in an interpretation of movement and transformation, visually provoked by the thin bands of painted metal lines. In this manner, the painter reveals the vibration of light and the infinite variety of colors perceptible in his inert images.

Artist Biography

Carlos Cruz-Díez, a Venezuelan painter and kinetic artist, was born on August 17, 1923 in Caracas (Venezuela). He studied at the School of Fine Arts of Caracas, where he later taught History of Applied Arts.

As of the 1950s he was extremely interested in optical phenomena; while experimenting with primary colors arranged in thin intersecting bands, he realized that he could create the illusion of a third or fourth color that was, in reality, not present. From then on, Cruz-Diez based his work on a “non-traditional understanding of color”. Cruz-Díez moved to Paris in 1960, exhibiting his “Physicromies” in 1969, as part of his first personal exhibition.

In addition to these works, Cruz-Díez created a variety of architecturally-integrated works in Europe and Latin America, including his “Transchromies” (1967) for the city of Caracas, or, in 1977, a chromatic environment for a hydroelectric power station in Guri, Venezuela. The Cruz-Díez Foundation was founded in 1995 in Houston (Texas, USA).

Cruz-Díez’s works show his focus on color and the various tricks of perception and simultaneity that can be created by the interplay between certain chromatic juxtapositions and light.