This article about the Carlos Cruz-Diez exhibition in Caracas (October 2–9, 1955) is pertinent to the study of his work and thinking at the time when he started on his abstract work in the mid-1950s. In their conversation, the writer of the “anonymous” review (no doubt the Venezuelan journalist and art critic Ratto-Ciarlo, born in Peru) and the artist address the links between “American” and “European” art, an important subject for discussion at the time among Latin American and, particularly, Venezuelan artists.
Cruz-Diez essentially considered art produced in Europe to be fundamentally different from the American version, despite it being “the womb” of art. He intends to go to Europe to study in museums and make an assessment of contemporary art from a critical perspective, considering pros and cons, unrestrained by the dogma of what he calls an “imported” culture. His ideas dovetailed with the thinking among leftist intellectuals and artists at the time, one of whom was the owner of the newspaper El Nacional, the writer Miguel Otero Silva. Two years later, in 1957, Otero Silva had a long public debate with the artist Alejandro Otero, a champion of abstract painting. Cruz-Diez is saying the same thing as Otero Silva, accusing abstract artists of abandoning human problems and taking refuge in an “elite art,” an aesthetic ivory tower at a remove from real life. “American” art was a mirror of humanity that, of course, reflected popular attempts to create a new, more just order, while abstract art was considered an aesthetic imported art that was out of touch with real problems.
Despite his Americanist views, Cruz-Diez’s profound doubts gradually made him more responsive to the arguments presented by his abstract painter colleagues, especially Jesús Soto, who saw in abstraction the greatest revolution in art in the last few centuries; surely a glimpse of the future of art. In this article Cruz-Diez refers to his “latest way,” the result of an “invention and juxtaposition of forms” that (without calling it abstract) he still considers to be based on a figurative approach, perhaps naively seeking to avoid being “adrift from human beings.”