Carlos Cruz-Diez : from figuration to kineticism
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The Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez (b.1923) is an exemplar of modernism both in Europe and in Latin America. This thesis offers a broader understanding of his work by discussing his early paintings as a precedent to his more recognized production. Cruz-Diez’s chief aim as an artist is the liberation of colour, a process undertaken with the motivation of being part of art history, in an avant-garde quest for what his original contribution to art could be. Transition, interaction, colour, space and time: these are the crucial concepts of the work of Cruz-Diez investigated in this thesis and positioned in the Latin American/European and Kinetic/Optical context. Today, Cruz-Diez’s works from his first Physichromie (1959) onwards have been extensively explored both by him in numerous commentaries and by scholars. In contrast, only few works of the 1950s have been displayed and discussed. The key aspect of my argument is that 1959 is not an abrupt beginning to Cruz-Diez’s work but the conclusive stage of a ten-year process of transition from figuration to abstraction. I demonstrate that there is indeed a drawn-out “passage” made of readings and experiments, of “successes” and" “failures”. I argue that this “passage” is articulated along three parallel paths: 1) the detachment from naturalistic or figurative representation; 2) the detachment from the concept of colour as a synonym of pigment on a support; and 3) the shift in emphasis from a “passive” to an “active” spectator.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print copy restricted until 30th October 2023. Electronic copy permanently restricted
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