Artists
Jesús Rafael Soto1923-2005, Venezuela
Jesús Rafael Soto

“… in order to achieve abstraction, I thought it was important to find a graphic system that would allow me to codify a reality rather than represent it.”

 

One of the most important kinetic artists of the 20th century, Jesús Rafael Soto began his artistic career at a very young age, painting posters for movie theaters in his home town of Ciudad Bolívar. In 1942, he received a scholarship to study art and art history at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas in Caracas, where he met fellow students Carlos Cruz-Diez, Mercedes Pardo, Omar Carreño, and Alejandro Otero. During these studies, he began making paintings inflected with Cubism. “For me, Cubism was an exercise in construction, in the ordering a planes, a tool that helped me to translate the tropical light,” he noted. In Caracas, he regularly attended meetings and discussions at the Taller Libre de Art (Open Air Studio), an institution sponsored by the Ministry of Education, in which intellectuals, critics, and artists debated current avant-garde ideas from Europe and Latin America; his first solo exhibition was held at the Taller in 1949. In 1947, Soto was invited to direct the Escuela de Bellas Artes de Maracaibo, where he remained until 1950. That year, he received a grant to travel to France; he settled in Paris, where he found a dynamic community of artists associated with the Salon des Realités Nouvelles and the Galerie Denise René, including Yaacov Agam, Jean Tinguely, Victor Vasarely. He also rejoined many of his friends from school, including Otero and Pardo.

 

Surrounded by these artists, Soto began to consider ways to move his work from two-dimensions to three, how to engage the viewer in the experience of the work, and how to incorporate the perception of movement into his art. In 1952, he collaborated with Otero, Alexander Calder, Fernand Léger, Antoine Pevsner, Henri Laurens, Jean (Hans) Arp, and others in the Proyecto de Integración de las Artes at the Universidad Central de Venezuela, headed by architect Carlos Raúl Villanueva. The project integrated the art of avant-garde modernists with the university architecture, and it is a signature project of mid-century modernism in Latin America.

 

Influenced by serialism in modern music, Soto began a series of “serial works” in 1952. In an interview conducted by Hans Ulrich Obrist in 2006, Soto recalled the importance of music to his early production: “In those years, I was trying to find ways to achieve true abstraction. To begin with, what I had to do was, of course, to completely dissociate drawing from its traditional function of representing everyday reality. So I thought of music, where the notes don’t represent anything, but in fact constitute a system of unlimited relationships invented by man. In the same way, in order to achieve abstraction, I thought it was important to find a graphic system that would allow me to codify a reality rather than represent it.” His interest in music was also as a musician; for more than a decade Soto earned his living by playing guitar at bars.

 

Soto was also influenced by the work of artists Piet Mondrian and Kazimir Malevich, especially in their treatment of geometry and abstraction. Wassily Kandinsky’s text Concerning the Spiritual in Art (1912) was an important resource for the young artist, as he began making works which suggested movement and instability. In 1947, when László Moholy-Nagy’s book Vision in Motion was published, Soto found another resource to support his ideas about movement and the spectator. By the 1960s, he was immersed in projects in which he used almost no color but, instead, explored the vibrations created by line and its dematerialization (through the inclusion of hanging elements). He also began exploring the idea of haptic art: making works to be touched by the viewer. The most widely known example of this phase of his work are the Penetrables, interactive metal and plastic structures through which the viewer moves; Soto created his first Penetrable in 1967. In an interview of 1970, Soto said, “With penetrables, my most recent creations, this participation becomes tactile, even often auditory. Man interacts with his surroundings. Matter, time and space form a true trinity, and movement is the force which demonstrates the trinity.”

 

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2015: Soto: Chronochrome, Galerie Perrotin, New York, NY, USA

2014: Jesús-Rafael Soto: The Houston Penetrable, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), Houston, TX, USA

2013: Soto dans le collection du Museé national d’art moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France

2010: Soto: Les harmonies combinatoires, Galerie Denise René, Paris, France

2006: Virtualidad Vibrante, Centro de Arte La Estancia, Caracas, Venezuela

2005-2006: Visión en Movimiento, Fundación PROA, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, Mexico

2004: Jesús-Rafael Soto, Sicardi Gallery, Houston, TX, USA

2003: Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas, Venezuela

2001: Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá, Colombia

2000: Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (MARCO), Monterrey, Mexico

1998: Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia, Salvador, Brazil

Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales, Montevideo, Uruguay

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina

1992: Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, Venezuela

Museo de Arte Moderno – Fundación Jesús Soto, Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela

1983: Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas, Caracas, Venezuela

1974: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY, USA

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., USA

1972: Museo de Arte Moderno, Bogotá, Colombia

1971: Akron Art Center, Akron, OH, USA

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL, USA

1964: Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, Venezuela

1956: Galerie Denise René, Paris, France

1949: Taller Libre de Arte, Caracas, Venezuela

 

Jesús Rafael Soto’s work has been included in numerous group exhibitions, including, most recently: Cosmopolitan Routes: Houston Collects Latin American Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (2010); Constructive Spirit: Abstract Art in South and North America, 1920-50s, Newark Museum, New Jersey (2010); North Looks South: Building the Latin American Art Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (2009); Lo(s) Cinetico(s), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2007); The Geometry of Hope: Latin American Abstract Art from the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection, Blanton Museum of Art, Austin (2007); and Inverted Utopias: Avant-Garde Art in Latin America, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (2004), among many others.

 

SELECTED PUBLIC COLLECTIONS

Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, USA

Auckland City Art Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

Casa de las Américas, Havana, Cuba

Fondazione Calderara, Vacciago di Ameno, Italy

Fondazione Il Giardino di Daniel Spoerri, Seggiano (Grosseto), Italy

Fondazione Lucio Fontana, Milan, Italy

Fonds Départemental d'Art Contemporain, Val-de-Marne, France

Fukuoka Art Museum, Japan

Fundación ARCO, Madrid, Spain

Fundación César Manrique, Teguise, Lanzarote (Iles Canaries), Spain

Fundación Galería de Arte Nacional, Caracas, Venezuela

Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin, Italy

Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Roma, Italy

Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., USA

Ho-Am Art Museum, Seoul, South Korea

The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel

Itami City Art Museum, Itami, Japan

The Iwaki City Museum, Iwaki, Japan

The Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX, USA

Josef Albers Museum, Quadrat, Bottrop, Germany

Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Krefeld, Germany

Kunstmuseum, Bern, Switzerland

Le Musée Martiniquais des Arts des Amériques – M2A2, Le Lamentin, France

Louisiana, Humlebaek, Denmark

Malmö Konstmuseum, Malmö, Sweden

Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden

Mondriaanhuis, Amersfoort, The Netherlands

Muezul de Arta Universala Burcuresti, Bucarest, Romania

Musée d'Art Contemporain de Montréal, Canada

Musée d'Art Contemporain, Lyon, France

Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France

Musée de Sculpture en Plein Air, Middelheim, Belgium

Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes, France

Musée des Beaux-Arts, Pau, France

Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France

Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas Sofía Imber, Caracas, Venezuela

Museo de Arte Latino Americano Contemporáneo de Managua, Nicaragua

Museo de Arte Moderno - Fundación Jesús Soto, Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela

Museo de Arte Moderno de Mérida Juan Astorga Anta, Mérida, Venezuela

Museo de Arte Moderno La Tertulia, Cali, Colombia

Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, Venezuela

Museo de La Asegurada, Alicante, Spain

Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende, Santiago, Chile

Museo Luis González Robles, Universidad de Alcalá, Alcalá de Henares, Spain

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City, Mexico

Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil

Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel, Switzerland

Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany

Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen, Germany

Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), Houston, TX, USA

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, NY, USA

Museum of Modern Art, Hokkaido, Japan

Museum of Modern Art, Saitama, Japan

Museum of Modern Art, Wakayama, Japan

Museum Wurth, Kunzelsau, Germany

National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia

National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, South Korea

Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, New York, NY, USA

Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, FL, USA

Oklahoma City Art Museum, Oklahoma City, OK, USA

Peter Stuyvesant Foundation, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Reflex Miniature Museum of Contemporary Art, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo, The Netherlands

Sammlung Lenz Schönberg, Munich, Germany

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY, USA

Sprengel Museum Hannover, Hanovre, Germany

Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Germany

Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Tate Gallery, London, UK

Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel

Tongyoung Nammang Open Air Sculpture Park, Tongyoung City, South Korea

Ulmer Museum, Ulm, Germany

Universal Graphic Museum, Giza, Egypt

 

For full CV please download the PDF below.

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Impressions | Abstractions EXHIBITIONS Impressions | Abstractions
Print Houston
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Masters EXHIBITIONS Masters
Asis, Cruz-Diez, de Barros, E...
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10th Mercosur Biennial NEWS 10th Mercosur Biennial
Mensajes de una Nueva América
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Jesús Rafael Soto NEWS Jesús Rafael Soto
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houst...
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Art Basel Miami Beach 2012 NEWS Art Basel Miami Beach 2012
Miami Beach Convention Center,...
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 Asis, Ferrari, Tomasello, Cruz-Diez,... NEWS Asis, Ferrari, Tomasello, Cruz-Diez,...
Sicardi Gallery at The Armory...
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 Asis, Cruz-Diez, Esmeraldo, Espinosa,... NEWS Asis, Cruz-Diez, Esmeraldo, Espinosa,...
Sicardi Gallery at Art Basel ...
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Jesús-Rafael Soto NEWS Jesús-Rafael Soto
Centre Pompidou
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Cruz-Diez, Le Parc, Soto, and Vardanega NEWS Cruz-Diez, Le Parc, Soto, and Vardanega
The Grand Palais, Paris
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Jesús-Rafael Soto NEWS Jesús-Rafael Soto
Centre Georges Pompidou
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 Asis, Cruz-Diez, Esmeraldo, Espinosa, Le... NEWS Asis, Cruz-Diez, Esmeraldo, Espinosa, Le...
Sicardi Gallery at Art Basel ...
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Jesús-Rafael Soto PUBLICATIONS Jesús-Rafael Soto
La Différence
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Jesús-Rafael Soto PUBLICATIONS Jesús-Rafael Soto
Fundación Jesús Soto
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Jesús-Rafael Soto PUBLICATIONS Jesús-Rafael Soto
Paris and Beyond
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Jesús Rafael Soto PROJECTS Jesús Rafael Soto
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houst...
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Jesús-Rafael Soto - Houston Press PRESS Jesús-Rafael Soto - Houston Press
2014
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Jesús-Rafael Soto | Arte al dia PRESS Jesús-Rafael Soto | Arte al dia
2014
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Jesús Rafael Soto | NY Times PRESS Jesús Rafael Soto | NY Times
May 7, 2014
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Jesús-Rafael Soto | ArtNexus PRESS Jesús-Rafael Soto | ArtNexus
2013
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Jesús-Rafael Soto | Art in America PRESS Jesús-Rafael Soto | Art in America
2012
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Jesús-Rafael Soto | Kansas City Star PRESS Jesús-Rafael Soto | Kansas City Star
2012
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Jesús-Rafael Soto | Art & Auction PRESS Jesús-Rafael Soto | Art & Auction
2011
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Jesús-Rafael Soto | Art in America PRESS Jesús-Rafael Soto | Art in America
2011
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Jesús-Rafael Soto | Berliner Zeitung PRESS Jesús-Rafael Soto | Berliner Zeitung
2009
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Jesús-Rafael Soto | Art in America PRESS Jesús-Rafael Soto | Art in America
2007
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Jesús-Rafael Soto | NY Times PRESS Jesús-Rafael Soto | NY Times
2002
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Jesús-Rafael Soto | NY Times PRESS Jesús-Rafael Soto | NY Times
1965
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