Cruz-Diez has consistently worked through his career focusing solely on colour, line and (viewer) perception. His visual style can be consistently identified throughout his work spanning his entire career. His work contains an element in which the viewer actively participates in viewing the work because the colour changes and presents a sensation of movement as the relative position of the viewer changes. Cruz-Diez uses the moire effect to produce this sensation of motion by his particular composition of lines. Because the image of his work changes as the viewer changes locations, he refers to this changing effect of the image as “vibrations.”
Cruz-Diez embarked on a period of intense study where he read a great deal on art history. He identified that to find something new – even the tiniest gap – he would have to conduct meticulous research, much like a scientist, using a methodical approach. The works of colour theorists, scientists like Chevreul, literary figures like Goethe, artists like Albers, Vasarely and Velasquez and the Impressionism movement informed his thinking.
Eventually Cruz-Diez came to the realization that color had never been the subject of any artistic discourse. Always dismissed as a mere consequence of form, it spurred him on to further study the eye, perception of color and the way light changes.
Gradually Cruz-Diez developed his discourse; that of color in space, devoid of form. His canvas’ reflect 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.
He uses lines because it is the most efficient tool, devoid of symbolism and leaving only colour without anecdote. Therefore colour becomes a matter of personal preference, which is an emotional connection. Viewers connect with the colour and through this find a poetry in his work.
Over time Cruz-Diez developed his medium of showcasing colour using the latest technology – always referring to the same principles – but demonstrated using increasingly accurate methods.
Integral to this is the notion of integrating people into his art. This is both out of necessity to accelerate the production of a piece – where assistants and family members follow his precise plans – and in the role of the viewer, where he changes the relationship between viewer and artwork from separate entities to that of a fundamental part of the works.