Jesús Rafael Soto

Jesús Rafael Soto in Penetrable (1973), Parque García Sanabria, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, September 1995

Photograph: © Courtesy of Carlos A. Schwartz

Jesús Rafael Soto was born in Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela, on June 5, 1923 and studied in Caracas until he moved to Paris in 1950. 

Soto began his artistic career based abstract painting, before moving to Op Art and Kinetic Art, of which he is considered the principal instigator.  For Jesús Soto, the experience of the work takes place in the real time and space of its perception. 

In 1958 he began the series “Vibrations”, made with hanging iron threads and wooden sticks. In 1967, he created kinetic structures for the Venezuelan pavilion at the Universal Exposition in Montreal. The following year, he created an installation with 250,000 painted steel rods for the Renault factory in Boulogne-Billancourt (France), and in 1969, he began the series “Penetrables” constructed with hanging plastic threads, through which the spectator can move.

Soto liberates the color pigment from the stable structure of the flat painting to elevate it to the ranks of pure luminous phenomenon (Matthieu Poirier, 2014, 5).

His artwork forms part of some of the most important institutional collections of the world, such as: Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; Tate Gallery, London, UK; The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York , NY, USA; Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY, EUA; Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City, Mexico; Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin, Italy; Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Roma, Italy; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden; Musée d'Art Contemporain, Lyon, France; Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France; Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium, among many others.

Jesús Soto passed away in Paris on January 14, 2005.