Natalia Sassu Suarez Ferri
Dr. Natalia Sassu Suarez Ferri
University of St Andrews (june – july 2021)
postdoc project : European and Latin American Exchanges: Kinetic Art in the Streets of Paris (1966–1969)
Dr. Natalia Sassu Suarez Ferri specialises in Latin American art of the 20th century, with a specific focus on Venezuelan kineticism and the art of Carlos Cruz-Diez. Her research focuses on kinetic and op art; transcontinental links between Latin America and Europe; colour theory; and the emergence of abstraction. Most recently, she has directed her studies to urban interventions by Latin American modernist artists in Paris, and to the added value that kinetic public art has acquired in Venezuela due to the country’s current socio-political situation. Her research has been published in the University of Granada’s volume Dolor, represión y censura política en la cultura del siglo XX (2017), and in Tate Papers (‘Carlos Cruz-Diez’s Physichromies between Centre and Periphery’, no.32, Autumn 2019). She has designed and taught undergraduate modules on modernism, postmodernism, and contemporary art in Latin America at the University of St Andrews (Scotland, UK).
Project Title: ‘European and Latin American Exchanges: Kinetic Art in the Streets of Paris (1966-1969)’
By the 1960s, Paris had become the preferred destination for several Latin American artists in search for visibility; for access to artworks and cultural networks; and, in some cases, for freedom from the repressive governments of their own countries. The socio-political climate they found in France in the 1960s confirmed their shared belief in the necessity of an art in the street, a democratic art available to all. My project focuses on two case studies: GRAV’s Une journée dans la rue (1966) and Carlos Cruz-Diez’s Chromosaturation (1969). While GRAV (Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel) was a collective of artists from Argentina, Spain, and France, Cruz-Diez was a Venezuelan artist who worked individually. They all practiced around the central hub for Latin Americans in Paris, Galerie Denise René, and emphasised abstraction and kineticism as the most effective ways to restore order in art and, by extension, in life. Both works involved sensorial experiences in the streets of Paris and were designed to deviate people from their daily routines, awakening them from their inattentive interactions with their surroundings. By making citizens responsive to their environment through their senses, these artists were employing a common strategy in Latin American modernism and using it to promote socio-political awareness. My project aims to shed light on the impact that Latin American artists had in 1960s art in Europe, and on transcontinental links between Paris and Latin America.