"I always thought art shouldn't be isolated from society, art is a way of communication. It shouldn't be closed within four walls. So I always liked to get in the street, do it in the best way, be sincere and offer it to everyone."
- Carlos Cruz-Diez
It is with great sadness that we commemorate the passing of our beloved artist and friend, Carlos Cruz-Diez, on July 27, 2019. Sicardi | Ayers | Bacino has had the pleasure of working with Cruz-Diez for the past seventeen years, and he will be dearly missed. Today we commemorate the life of this master of Kinetic Art, known affectionately as “el Maestro,” a creative visionary beloved by all.
Born in Caracas, Venezuela in 1923, Carlos Cruz-Diez first studied art at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Aplicadas from 1940 to 1945. During his studies, he met artists Jesús Rafael Soto and Alejandro Otero, both of whom would join him as leading figures in the Venezuelan Kinetic Art movement. Cruz-Diez was also influenced by his study of French Impressionism, as it relates to experimenting with color and the shifting effects of light. In 1946, he became the creative director of the Venezuelan branch of noted American advertising firm McCann-Erickson, and an illustrator for Venezuela’s El Nacional newspaper. The following year, Cruz-Diez traveled to New York for the first time and had his first solo show of gouache paintings in Caracas.
In 1955, Cruz-Diez moved to Barcelona for a year and a half, where he joined Soto and was exposed to a pivotal exhibition of Op Art at Galerie Denise René in Paris. Throughout the next two years, he began a series of multicolored, movable wooden objects known as Objetos rítmicos móviles, and began experimenting with colored light. In 1959, he produced his first Physichromie, translated as "physical color,” a series which continued for the rest of his career. In 1960, Cruz-Diez moved permanently to Paris, where he quickly integrated himself into the artistic circles of Luis Tomasello and the avant-garde Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel.
In 1971, the artist established his workshop in a former Belle Epoque-era butcher’s shop on the rue Pierre Sémard. In 2016, the Atelier Cruz-Diez relocated to a larger space nearby. Here he pursued his explorations of color and light through Physichromies, Chromosaturations, Chromo-interference Environments, and large-scale public projects, all of which were developed as investigations into visual and perceptual experiences of color. As the artist explains regarding his Chromosaturation series, “That reality (which I consider visible) leads us along other paths, both perceptive and sensory, to parallel ideas of beauty and sublimation.” Cruz-Diez is internationally considered a master artist of the 20th and 21st centuries for his contributions to the theory and practice of color.
Sicardi | Ayers | Bacino was honored to have hosted six solo exhibitions of his work between 2005 and 2019, and to have partnered closely with Cruz-Diez on large-scale public projects including Physichromie Double at the University of Houston (2008), Chromatic Induction in a Double Frequency at the Miami Marlins stadium (2012), a permanent installation in Washington, D.C.'s CityCenter development, designed by Foster + Partners (2015), and Spatial Chromointerference at Houston’s Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern (2018). The gallery also collaborated with the Atelier Cruz-Diez to establish the Cruz-Diez Art Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Houston. While we are saddened by the loss of this visionary artist and friend, his artistic legacy and his generosity of spirit will continue beyond his lifetime.
The work of Cruz-Diez is included in many notable public collections, including the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas, Austin, USA, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France, the Collection of Latin American Art at the University of Essex, Colchester, UK, the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK, Galeria de Arte Nacional, Caracas, Venezuela, Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France, Musée de Grenoble, France, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Bogotá, Colombia, Museu de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), USA, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, USA, Tate Gallery, London, UK, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK among others.
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