Carlos Cruz-Diez - Latin America New York Tuesday, November 22, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

    We are grateful to the Cruz-Diez Art Foundation for their kind assistance in cataloguing this work.

  • Catalogue Essay

    For five decades the Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez has reflected on his experience of observing color as a sensitivity of one’s reality. Triggering a lifelong restlessness of infinite possibilities to investigate the chromatic spectrum, “color appeared and disappeared without the benefit of a support; it was not a substance applied on a canvas with a brush. And yet, I noticed that the emotion it evoked was just as powerful as it would be in the case of a painting. This was what convinced me to look for other solutions and other ideas concerning the use of color in art” (Carlos Cruz-Diez, Cruz-Diez: Color Espacial, 2015, Centro Cultural Internacional Oscar Niemeyer, p. 15). Mastering endless variations in medium and size, Cruz-Diez genially presents the viewer with non-conventional ways to experience this as a spectacle and a stimulating phenomenon of interpretation.

    Born in 1923 in Caracas, Cruz-Diez, a pioneer in the fields of Op and Kinetic art studied in the Escuela de Bellas Artes from 1940-1945, earning a living as a graphic designer while simultaneously developing his artistic tendencies focusing on figurative social realism. In the 1950s, his travels to Europe and his decision to permanently move to Paris caused a pivotal change in the development of his artistic language.

    The present lot, Physichromie No. 1020 (1975), forms part of the artists most remarkable and striking series of work that he began to create in 1959, defined by the artist as “a light trap where a series of color strips interact and transform one another” (Osbel Suarez, Carlos Cruz- Diez: Color Happens, Fundación Juan, Madrid, 2009, p. 20). By gluing sheets of colored cardboard perpendicular to a stable background, these constructions produced a chromatic effect that was not only dependent on the lighting but also on the movement of the viewer. Thereupon producing a different chromatic sequence each time the spectator interacts with the piece. In 1961, the artist introduced the use of clear thin translucent sheets and in 1964 began using a template as a means of homogenizing its appearance.

    While the early Physichromies included select colors such as black, red, white and green, the present lot contains a variety of colors including shades of red, yellow, pink and purple. Physichromie No. 1020, is an outstanding example of the artist’s mature style and his mechanized production of these works. Cruz-Diez employed a metal support to project a series of colors; the large scale of the piece, along with a multitude of colors, invites the viewer to observe the piece from multiple angles, producing a unique visual experience each time. In Physichromie No. 1020, as in Cruz-Diez’s other kinetic pieces, the viewer is not merely a spectator, but an integral component of the artwork whose unique vision, position and perspective activates a multitude of color reflections.

    “When the sun is going down at the end of the day, there is an intense saturation of color that affects the trees and the land, objects and people. Everything is bathed in a monochromatic shade of orange that gradually fades as night falls.” (Carlos Cruz-Diez, Cruz-Diez: Color Espacial, Centro Cultural Internacional Oscar Niemeyer, May 2015, p. 15). While the present lot is a masterful example of the artist’s exploration with the entire color spectrum, the dominant red illustrates the significance of this particular hue within Cruz-Diez’s extensive oeuvre. This vibrant color coupled with the remarkable size of the present lot asserts its impressive wall power and its relation to the masters who influenced his work, including Impressionists such as Claude Monet who first explored the effects of light on their surroundings.

  • Artist Biography

    Carlos Cruz-Diez

    Venezuelan • 1923 - 2019

    Carlos Cruz-Diez moved from his native Caracas to Paris in 1960. He is a major protagonist in the field of kinetic and Op Art, a movement based on "an awareness of the instability of reality."
            Inspired by such artists as Georges Seurat and Josef Albers, his work focuses on the kinetic energy of color and its existence as an autonomous and evolving reality, independent from form or structure. Much of his work, in particular his Physichromie series, is created by plotting lines of contrasting color alongside each other, creating an illusion of movement as the viewer's position relative to the artwork shifts.

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Physichromie No. 1020

signed, titled and dated "Physichromie No. 1.020 - Cruz-Diez - Paris 1975" on the reverse
silkscreen and plastic elements on metal support with aluminum frame
39 3/8 x 78 3/4 in. (100 x 200 cm)
Executed in 1975.

$400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for $430,000

Contact Specialist
Kaeli Deane
Head of Sale, Latin American Art
New York
+1 212 940 1352

Latin America

New York Auction 22 November 2016