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Carlos Cruz-Diez, Venezuelan pioneer of kinetic art, dies at 95

Carlos Cruz-Diez (cruz-diez.com)

Carlos Cruz-Diez, a leading Venezuelan artist who won international acclaim for his work with color and the style known as kinetic art, has died in Paris. He was 95.

The artist was surrounded by his family at the time of his death on Saturday, according to Cruz-Diez’s official website.

“Your love, your joy, your teachings and your colors, will remain forever in our hearts,” a statement said.

Cruz-Diez developed a reputation as one of Latin America’s most prominent artists in the second half of the 20th century. His installations have been featured in major international art museums and public spaces. His work has recently been on display in exhibitions in Paris, London, Saudi Arabia and Panama, his website said.

“I reflect on life, on art, on what my role should be,” Cruz-Diez said in an interview with The Associated Press in New York in 2008.

“I’m not from the past, I’m from today,” he said, adding that he defined himself as an “explorer.”

Cruz-Diez studied art in Caracas and, after graduating, worked as an artistic director for the U.S. advertising agency then known as McCann Erickson and illustrator for Venezuela’s El Nacional newspaper.

In 1957, he founded a visual arts school in Caracas and moved to Paris two years later to pursue art. He made his home in France, teaching and eventually becoming a French citizen in 2008.

“Art always inspired me. But in my youth, and I think this happens to a lot of Latin Americans, one feels marginalized, the world of art was always distant for us,” Cruz-Diez told the AP in another interview in 2009.

Latin America was in a state of “cultural dependence” early in his career, he said.

“We went to Europe to look for information. Impressionism and other movements reached us 30 or 40 years late,” he said.

Cruz-Diez was born in Caracas on Aug. 17, 1923 and his work was incorporated into the city as it expanded with the help of Venezuela’s booming oil industry, starting in the 1970s. His stunning, chromatic mosaic at the international airport was unveiled at a time when the building was an icon of modernity.

Today, Venezuela is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis that has forced millions to leave the country. Some migrants take photos of themselves at the airport artwork as a last memory of their homeland before departing.

“I always thought art shouldn’t be isolated from society, art is a way of communication. It shouldn’t be closed within four walls,” he said. “So I always liked to get in the street, do it in the best way, be sincere and offer it to everyone.”

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