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In this essay, Jean Clay reviews Fisicromías, the series of works by Carlos Cruz-Diez, and analyzes them from various perspectives. Clay discusses the evolution of the artist’s techniques, examining them through a prism of aesthetic principles. He refers to the fundamental qualities and concepts that define the Kinetic artist’s expressive goals and work, such as their potential for “metamorphosis” or their function as an “event” [événement] that takes place in the present. Clay mentions other artists who researched color before Cruz-Diez did, and concludes his essay by claiming that both Carlos Cruz-Diez and Jesús Rafael Soto are responsible for making Venezuela’s most significant contribution to modern art.
The art critic and historian Jean Clay is one of the celebrated international scholars who have written about Carlos Cruz-Diez, the Venezuelan Kinetic artist, over the course of the latter’s career. Cruz-Diez settled in France in 1960 and has lived there since then, so many newspaper articles and reviews were originally written in French and subsequently translated into Spanish. This essay (translated by the writer Alfredo Silva Estrada) was published, together with the French version, in the catalogue for Fisicromías de Carlos Cruz-Diez, the exhibition held at the Sala de Exposiciones de la Fundación Eugenio Mendoza, in Caracas, October 9 through 23, 1966. Clay had seen the Fisicromías de Cruz-Diez a year earlier, at the VII Bienal de São Paulo, and briefly discusses the relationship between them and the works by Soto, Le Parc, and the Japanese artist Ai-O that were also on display at the São Paulo biennial. This essay was therefore apparently not written especially for the Caracas exhibition, although it was appropriate. The Spanish essay appears first and in a larger font, and both versions are arranged around three very simple diagrams in the part that refers to techniques (additive color; reflective color; and subtractive color).
An important feature of this essay is that the author describes one of Cruz-Diez’s most distinctive traits, one that sets him apart from many other artists, including other Optical and Kinetic artists: his works become more complex as he makes key discoveries. This is reminiscent of the paradigms or discoveries that have led to great changes in science. These events were sometimes the result of chance, and were then followed by lengthy periods of experimentation. In this sense, Carlos Cruz-Diez is both an artist and a dedicated researcher.
For more information on the work of Cruz-Diez, see Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza’s interview “Entrevista a Cruz Diez [No imitamos, nos imitan]” [doc. no. 862938]; and the article by Víctor Guédez “Vertientes plásticas y estéticas en Carlos Cruz-Diez” [doc. no. 857000].