Biographies: Carlos Cruz-Diez


Carlos Cruz-Diez spent his life as a passionate painter and enjoyed a very colorful life. Born in Caracas, Venezuela in 1923, as a boy he loved drawing in class, playing at his father’s desk with his rubber stamp and observing the world around him.

Cruz-Diez started to form his discourse and headed to Europe in 1955; first to El Masnou near Barcelona from which he traveled often to Paris, the place to be for artists and intellectuals. In Paris he was happy to discover that his thinking was in line with a lot of progressive artists from different countries. This group was creating a tendency that Vasarely called the kinetic art movement.

Soon he was in demand right across Europe, part of a group of artists changing art from something static into something that people could participate in. His first solo exhibition in Paris was at the Galerie Kerchache in 1965. To best manage his increasing work demands and ensure he could act on all the ideas in his head Cruz-Diez developed a way of accelerating his work rate by inventing tools to help him realize each artwork.

Gradually Cruz-Diez developed his discourse; that of color in space, devoid of form. His canvas reflects the ever-changing, ephemeral and mobile nature of color unlike the work of the Impressionists, which showcased the changing color of light but only in a motionless way that was in the past, not the present.

Over a period of almost seven decades of research, refinement and discovery, Cruz-Diez never strayed from his original discourse. He remained amazed with life, passionate about his work and with a childlike enthusiasm that was utterly contagious. His ateliers in Paris, Caracas and Panama are testament to his philosophy of encouraging alternative ways of thinking and gave him the extra pairs of hands he needed to handcraft his vision at a prolific rate, that always lagged behind that of his imagination.

To date Cruz-Diez has been featured in 1544 collective exhibitions, 351 solo exhibitions, has constructed 177 architectural works, received 78 awards, created 101 ephemeral events and has works on display in the permanent collection of 96 museums. All of which in 70 countries, and counting.

Select Awards:

  • 1966 | Grand Prize, III American Art Biennial, National University of Córdoba, Faculty of Exact Sciences, Córdoba, Argentina.
  • 1967 | International Painting Award, IX São Paulo Biennial, São Paulo, Brasil.
  • 1971 | National Prize for Plastic Arts, National Institute of Culture and Fine Arts (INCIBA), Caracas, Venezuela.
  • 1981 | Andrés Bello Order, First Class, Caracas, Venezuela.
  • 1986 | Official Degree, Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Paris, France.
  • 1992 | Gold Medal, Norwegian International Print Triennale, Oslo, Norway.
  • 1994 | Commander Degree, Christopher Columbus Heraldic Order, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
  • 2002 | Commander's Degree, Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Paris, France.
  • 2006 | Doctor Honoris Causa, Simón Bolívar University, Caracas, Venezuela.
  • 2007 | Doctor Honoris Causa in Art, University of Los Andes, Mérida, Venezuela.
  • 2011 | Gold Medal, Americas Society, New York, United States.
  • 2012 | Penagos Drawing Award, Mapfre Foundation, Madrid, Spain.
  • 2012 | Officer Degree of the National Order of the Legion of Honor, Paris, France.
  • 2014 | Doctor Honoris Causa, Central University, Caracas, Venezuela.
  • 2015 | Turner Medal, City University, London, UK.

SOURCES: Cruz-Diez Foundation,

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