Carlos Cruz-Diez (b. 1923)
- Carlos Cruz-Diez
- Chromo-Interference Mécanique
metal, paint, springs, and electric motors
"I propose: Autonomous color...without anecdotes, stripped of symbols, an evolving event, involving us" Carlos Cruz-Diez, 2008
Carlos Cruz-Diez (Caracas, 1923) has focused his oeuvre on the visual effects created by physical interaction between colors.
The spectrum of his work spans from compositions of geometric abstraction to pure color light environments. Known for his extensive series of Physichromies, Cruz-Diez created a set of works he called Chromo-Interference, so named because of the range of colors created through light by the interference of line patterns with varying frequencies.
In 1978, Cruz Diez was asked to participate in a competition to design the interior of the new UBS building on Flurstrasse, in Zürich. After gaining the commission over Alexander Calder and Valerio Adami, he worked closely with the architects F.A.+ R.Widmer, Arch/SIA, Zürich to create what became one of the most ambitious art integration projects ever made by the artist. The building was recently sold to another entity and its future is now uncertain. UBS has worked with the artist and Taller Cruz Diez in Paris to organize the removal of the art works in the building. We recently asked him a few questions about the historic Flurpark building creation:
Axel Stein: Can you comment on the character of the three proposals in the 1978 UBS competition?
Carlos Cruz-Diez: Sure! First, I felt much honored to be asked to participate with such great artists. Basically, Calder and Adami proposed to do paintings on the walls. I remember that Calder's work was very graphic: he wanted to paint all the walls with spirals, the sun, the moon and other simple and colorful elements he was using at the time in his late gouaches. Adami for his part designed a series of lines that went up from floor to floor. Again, I believe I got the contract because the Jury understood that my art was conceived as a function and not as a decoration: a function to identify the place and to animate the public forum. ../... This was the largest and the most complete integrated work I have done in a "habitat". I was really interested in doing it in a workplace because I wanted people to live with the art in their everyday life.
AS: Please tell us about this Mechanical Chromo-Interference
CCD: The first mechanical Chromo-Interference was made in 1966. This particular one has a big band drum like form with two faces; it is powered by a Swiss mechanism which was specially designed for it: the motors moved the circular panels around the piece while also moving the inner circles as a pendulum. The two sides have an independent movement and the two harmonies are also different. Another difference with the regular Chromo-Interferences is that instead of printing the black horizontal lines on Plexiglas to create the "effect", I used long metal springs and the result was great because there was no reflection to cover the resulting phenomenon. This is a very beautiful piece and it is the largest Chromo-Interference that I have produced.
AS: This piece was moved from the fourth floor to the entry hall and it looked quite beautiful ... it was the welcoming piece
CCD: Yes, I saw it there, it seemed to me a great place to have it because -as you say- more people would see it there. The reception area was truly spectacular: the Physichromie ceiling (1,500 square meters) went all the way out of the building under the cement awning and on the right-hand side as you entered there was a Trans-Chromie which covered all the large window panels and served as a regulator and modulator of the entrance of light in the afternoon.
 Houston, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Color in Space and Time, Cruz-Diez, Febrary 10-July 4, 2011, p. 238