Within the Light Trap: Carlos Cruz-Diez in Black and White

Image credit: Carlos Cruz-Diez. Los diablos de Yare, San Francisco de Yare, estado de Miranda, Venezuela, 1951. (Image courtesy of the artist.)

Within the Light Trap: Carlos Cruz-Diez in Black and White

On view: through

Venezuelan-born, Paris-based artist Carlos Cruz-Diez’s longstanding research in color has won him an international reputation as one of the most important figures of Latin American modernism. The Fisicromías series (1959), two-dimensional abstract works organized through a chromatic scheme, consolidated an innovative trajectory, which lead him to de-materialize color by the end of 1960s. Furthermore, Cruz-Diez’s analysis of the transformative possibilities of color is deeply rooted in his particular interest in mechanical reproduction, as is evident in his study of the technical processes of the Polaroid photograph, film, and black-and-white photography. In many interviews, the artist has affirmed his creative debt to photography as a substantial source for helping him elaborate a discourse in the field of visual arts.


Cruz-Diez’s empirical exploration of photography is further grounded on social preoccupations the artist developed in the 1940s, when he became aware of the rapid demographic and economic transformations caused by modernization in his native Venezuela. Since then, he has documented everyday life rituals linked to the vernacular, such as local folklore festivities in rural communities and the viral emergence of shantytowns in Caracas. He has portrayed important intellectual figures linked to popular culture and music who were key interlocutors for him and his generation. Cruz-Diez’s interest on local popular culture through photography also laid a foundation for a number of realist paintings that conveyed social concerns he later redefined with the use of color as a participatory element.


In 2008, the Americas Society organized the artist’s first exhibition Carlos Cruz-Diez: (In)Formed by Color to focus on the artist’s chromatic research. Within the Light Trap, Cruz-Diez in Black and White is an exhibition that gathers a condensed body of photography made by the artist since the 1940s, bringing an important yet little known chapter of his practice to the New York audience. The exhibition also includes paintings that reflect Cruz-Diez’s early approach to realism nurtured by political and aesthetic debates undertaken by Venezuelan artists after the Second World War.

Venezuela in Black-and-White

The New York Times' Lens Blog

The New York Times’ Lens blog features photographs of Venezuela now on display at Americas Society’s Carlos Cruz-Diez exhibition.


Cruz Diez in Black and White

Caracas Chronicles

Caracas Chronicles highlights Americas Society’s current exhibit Within the Light Trap: Cruz-Diez in Black and White on view until March 22.


Exhibition Funders

The exhibition Within the Light Trap: Cruz-Diez in Black and White is made possible by the generous support of Chevron as Lead Sponsor.

The Winter 2014 Visual Arts Program is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.