Op and kinetic artist, sculptor and painter, Jesús Rafael Soto was born in Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela on June 5, 1923. He began his artistic career as a boy painting cinema posters. He received his artistic training at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Artes Aplicadas in Caracas. Soto became the Director of the Escuela de Artes Plasticas in Maracaibo from 1947 to 1950, He then moved to Paris and began associating with Yaacov Agam, Jean Tinguely Victor Vasarely and other artists connected with the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles and the Galerie Denise René.
- Soto’s breakthrough works of the 1950s and 1960s were “geometric abstract paintings”, using a limited and carefully selected array of flat colours.
- During the 1950s, Soto combined art and science by using vibrant patterns interspersed with vision. He created a series of works including London scribblings (see above) in which the hanging of free-form metal rods in front of painted stripes produces vibrations and perceived motion.
- Soto was interested in perception and this is reflected in the interactive nature of some of his work. Soto created the so-called Penetrables, interactive sculptures which consist of square arrays of thin, dangling tubes through which observers can walk. He made over 25 Penetrables in his career.
- From 1970 until the early 1990s, Soto’s works appeared in places such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, as well as the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. In 2001, he participated in the SITE Santa Fe biennial.
In 1973, the Jesús Soto Museum of Modern Art opened in Ciudad Bolívar, with a collection of his work. Unlike conventional art galleries, a large number of the exhibits are wired to the electricity supply so that they can move.
- Sadly, Soto died on January 14, 2005. Further works are available on his website.
“Is It Art?”