A Perfect Marriage of Art and Space

‘Double Physichromie’ Returns to Place of Prominence at UH

A signature work from Public Art of University of Houston System (PAUHS) Collection has made a colorful return to the UH campus. Carlos Cruz-Diez’s “Double Physichromie” is now located in the University’s “arts district” between the Graduate College of Social Work building, Fine Arts Building and Student Center Satellite.

María C. Gaztambide, PAUHS director and chief curator, believes positioning this high-profile piece in a central spot and 20 inches off the ground versus its original four inches, better aligns with the artist’s vision of making his sculpture – with its rich colors and serpentine shape – visible from every angle and easily accessible.

“It really allows the viewer to appreciate this piece in the round,” Gaztambide said. “My hope is that people will experience this work on a personal level, feel free to walk around it, get close to it and away from it, visualizing the changing color patterns and shapes as they move around.”

The Venezuelan artist was involved in the process of relocating the sculpture, which was originally installed in 2009 outside the Welcome Center Parking Garage. It was removed earlier this year for restoration. Art conservator Robert Marshall and his team spent months taking the work apart, cleaning calcium deposits from irrigation sprinklers, then resurfacing and re-painting its nearly 2,000 individual elements to ensure longevity.

“Double Physichromie” is among the nearly 700 pieces in the University of Houston System public art collection, which is one of the largest and most impressive in the nation. The successful relocation of the sculpture is encouraging PAUHS to think more critically about existing artwork locations and if other potential re-sitings are feasible.