Un être flottant
Palais d'Iéna, Conseil Economique, Social et Environnemental
Since the 1950s, Carlos Cruz-Diez has made Wassily Kandinsky’s century old dream a reality: to create an image that is «a figure floating in the air.» Born in Caracas in 1923, the Venezuelan artist moved to Paris in 1960 where he still lives and works. In 1954, along with Victor Vasarely, Jesús Rafael Soto and Heinz Mack, his works were already an important part of the emergence of a new and radical form of abstraction: Optical and Kinetic Art. Cruz-Diez elaborated a series of techniques to explore pure color as a highly unstable phenomenon.
Be it the background for a canvas, the three dimensions of a work in relief, or in a sculptural volume, he endeavors to trigger chromatic events by unleashing color from its base and projecting the viewer into the mystery of perception while at the same time inviting him to participate actively. The chromatic alchemy that results is a clear precedent to the environments of California Light and Space, like James Turrell’s work, to mention only one example.
For this environment at the Palais d’Iéna, head office of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council, Cruz-Diez will take over and modify the public perception of Auguste Perret’s emblematic monument, its spectacular, namely «brutalist» architecture, and the delicate nuances of its colored concrete surfaces. The visitor will experience the colored plexiglas pavilion of the first Chromosaturation (1965). This will take the form of diverse luminous projections that immerse the viewer in successive and stunning monochromatic baths. Chromatic Environment, a monumental installation in situ (see ill.) will be deployed in the out-of-scale volume of the hypostyle room of the Palais d’Iéna. It will be based on Cruz-Diez’s pictorial activity of vibrating effects, which in 1957 already foreshadowed the Op Art movement. Integrating his work in various architectures since the 70s, Cruz-Diez invades the perceptual space, in a rich dialogue with the spirit of the place, its genius loci.