Master of colour

A 1970s architectural intervention by Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez finds a new lease of life at Art Basel

From blue-chip galleries to fresh-faced artists, there’s plenty of variety on offer in the labyrinthine network of booths at Art Basel (14-17 June) – and yet, some of the best exhibits are tucked away in the fair’s VIP lounges. Marking 25 years of partnership with the Swiss art fair, UBS is staging a dedicated exhibition of work by Venezuelan artist and ‘master of colour’ Carlos Cruz-Diez in its lounge.

The presentation at Art Basel will feature works from the Swiss bank’s art collection – some of which have never been exhibited in public before – that were part of an architectural intervention by Cruz-Diez at the former UBS building on Flurstrasse in Zurich in the 1970s. Chromo-kinetic elements were integrated into elements of the building so that the halls, corridors and common spaces were brought to life by an ever-changing colour scheme.

‘The Environnement Chromatique [Chromatic Environment] of the UBS headquarters, on which I worked over four years, is one of my integrations of art in architecture I have the fondest memories about,’ says Carlos Cruz-Diez. ‘Art is a complex structure of communication, expression, discovery and invention. Every work of art, every human production, is important when it modifies a former way of thinking.’