Biography

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.”

Quote

“… 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.”

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2017

Dans Son Jus, Jesús Rafael Soto, Leon Tovar Gallery, New York, NY, USA 

 

Jesús Rafael Soto: Sound Mural - Cecilia Brunson Projects - London, London

 

Jesús Rafael Soto: Sound Mural - Cecilia Brunson Projects - Santiago, Santiago

2016

Virtual Soto, Caleria Cayon, Madrid, Spain

2015

Jesús Rafael Soto – Une Rétrospective, Musée Soulages, Rodez, France 

 

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

 

Soto: Estática Dinámico, Galería de Arte Ascaso, Caracas, Venezuela 

2014

Jesús Rafael Soto: Houston Penetrable, 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

2009

Jesús Rafael Soto, Galerie Max Hetlzer, Berlin, Germany

2008

Galería Elvira Gonzalez, Madrid, Spain

 

Leon Tovar Gallery, New York, NY, USA

 

Robert Sandelson and Contemporary International Art, London, UK

2006

Soto Virtual, Trasnocho Cultural, Caracas, Venezuela

 

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

 

Jesús Rafael Soto, Pablo Goebel Fine Arts, Mexico City, Mexico

 

Visión en Movimiento, Fundación PROA, Buenos Aires, Argentina

 

Visione en Movimiento, Galleria d’Arte Moderna é Contemporaneo, Bergamo, Italy

 

Soto, Galería Theo, Madrid, Spain

2005

Visión en Movimiento, Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, Mexico

2004

Galería Dimaca, Caracas, Venezuela

 

Jesus Rafael Soto, Sicardi Gallery, Houston, TX, USA

2003

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas, Venezuela

 

Centro Cultural Metropolitano, Quito, Ecuador

 

Galerie Denise René, Paris, France

2002

Joan Guaita Art, Palma de Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain

 

Dan Galería, São Paulo, Brazil

 

Centro de Arte de Maracaibo Lía Bermúdez, Maracaibo, Venezuela

 

Galería de Arte Ascaso, Caracas, Venezuela

2001

Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá, Colombia

 

Riva Yares Gallery, Scottsdale, Arizona

2000

Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

 

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (MARCO), Monterrey, Mexico

 

Allianz Versicherungs-AG, Berlin, Germany

 

Fundación Corp Group Centro Cultural, Caracas, Venezuela

 

FIAC (Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain), Galerie Denise René, Paris, France

1999

Banque Bruxelles Lambert, Brussels, Belgium

 

Galerie Schoeller, Dusseldorf, Germany

 

Sala de Arte Telefónica, Santiago, Chile

 

Galería de arte La Previsora, Caracas, Venezuela

 

Galerie am Lindenplatz AG, Vaduz, Liechtenstein

 

Galería de Arte Ascaso, Valencia, Venezuela

1998

Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia, Salvador (Bahia), Brazil

 

Riva Yares Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ, USA

 

Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales, Montevideo, Uruguay

 

Espacio Cultural PDV, Caracas, Venezuela

 

Centro Cultural del Conde Duque, Madrid, Spain

 

Riva Yares Gallery, Santa Fe, NM, USA

 

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina

 

Casa Andrade Muricy, Curitiba, Parana, Brazil

 

Durban Segnini Gallery, Coral Gables, FL, USA

1997

Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris, France

 

Stiftung für Konkrete Kunst, Reutlingen, Germany

 

Museu de Arte Contempôranea da Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil

 

Galerie Denise René, Paris, France

 

Hyundai Gallery, Seoul, South Korea

 

ART 28'97, Galerie Denise René, Basel, Switzerland

 

Galería Durban, Caracas, Venezuela

 

Fairmate Art Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan

 

J.G.M. Galerie, FIAC, Paris, France

 

National Central University, Chung-Li, Taiwan

1995

Durban-Segnini Gallery, ART MIAMI '95, Miami, FL, USA

 

Galería Exedra, Quito, Equador

 

Galería Durban, FIA, Caracas, Venezuela

 

Espacio Soto, Galería Durban, Caracas, Venzuela

 

Hyundai Gallery, Seoul, South Korea

1994

Elisabeth Franck Gallery, Knokke-le-Zoute, Belgium

 

Casa de la Cultura Juan Félix Sánchez, Mérida; Ateneo Jesús Soto, Tovar, Venezuela

 

Festival International de Biarritz, France

 

Gallery Seomi, Seoul, South Korea

 

In Khan Gallery, New York, NY, USA

1993

Altamira Fine Art, ART ASIA, Hong Kong

 

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Maracay Mario Abreu, Maracay, Venezuela

 

Musée des Beaux-Arts, Pau, France

 

Fundação de Serralves, Porto, Portugal 

 

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

1992

Galería Theo, ARCO, Madrid, Spain

 

Abbaye Saint-André, Centre d'Art Contemporain, Meymac; Le Carré/Musée Bonnat, Bayonne

 

Altamira Fine Art, Caracas, Venezuela

 

Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, Venezuela

1991

Gallery 44, Kaarst, Germany

 

Gallery 44, FIAC, Paris, France

 

Humphrey Gallery, New York, NY, USA

 

Galleria Arte 92, Milan, Italy

 

Galería Quintero, Barranquilla, Colombia

1990

Galería Theo, Madrid, Spain

 

Theoespacio, Madrid, Spain

 

Estudio Theo, Madrid, Spain

 

Galerie Sapone, Nice, France.

 

Galleria Eva Menzio, Turin, Italy

 

Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura, Japan

 

Museum of Modern Art, Saitama, Japan

 

Iwaki City Art Museum, Iwaki, Japan

 

Itami City Museum of Art, Itami, Japan

 

Galería Theo, Barcelona, Spain

 

Galleria Art Valley 88, Forte dei Marmi, Italy

 

Josef Albers Museum, Quadrat, Bottrop, Germany

1989

Galerie Hermanns, Munich, Germany

 

Museo de Arte, Coro, Venezuela

1988

Ateneo, Boconó, Venezuela

 

Elisabeth Franck Gallery, Knokke-le-Zoute, Belgium

 

Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, San Juan, Puerto Rico

 

Hyundai Gallery, Seoul, South Korea

1987

Galerie Gilbert Brownstone, Paris, France

1986

Contemporary Sculpture Center, Tokyo, Japan

 

Contemporary Sculpture Center, Osaka, Japan

 

Expressions Art Gallery, Miami, FL, USA

1985

Galería Garcés Velásquez, Bogotá, Colombia

 

Achenbach Art Consulting, Dusseldorf, Germany

 

Center for the Fine Arts, Miami, FL, USA

 

Hokin Gallery, Miami, FL, USA

1984

Charles Cowles Gallery, New York, NY, USA

1983

Casa de la Cultura, La Victoria, Venezuela

 

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas, Venezuela

 

Centro de Bellas Artes, Maracaibo, Venezuela

 

Sala Luzán, Saragossa, Spain

1982

Palacio de Velázquez, Madrid, Spain

 

Caja de Ahorros Provincial, Alicante, Spain

 

Fundación Joan Miró, Barcelona, Spain

 

Colegio de Arquitectos, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain

 

Galería Theo & Sala Celini, Madrid, Spain

 

Galería Quintero, Barranquilla, Colombia

 

Ateneo, Zea, Venezuela

1981

Galería de Arte Rolando Oliver Rugeles, Mérida, Venezuela

 

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Francisco Narváez, Porlamar, Venezuela

 

Galería Témpora, Bogotá, Colombia

 

Casa de Colón, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain

1980

Galerie Denise René, Paris, France

 

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas, Sala Ipostel, Caracas, Venezuela

 

Universidad Simón Bolívar, Caracas, Venezuela

 

Galerie Ferm, Malmö, Sweden

1979

Helsinki Kaupungin Taidekokoelmat, Helsinki, Finland

 

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

1978

Louisiana Museum, Humlebaek, Denmark

 

Liljevalchs Konsthall, Stockholm, Sweden

1977

Galerie Bonnier, Geneva, Switzerland

 

Centre International de Création Artistique, Sénanque, France

 

Galería El Parque, Valencia, Venezuela

 

Galería Arte Contacto, Caracas, Venezuela

 

Bibliothèque Municipale, Cannes, France

 

Galerie Valeur, Nagoya, Japan

1976

Galerie Watari, Tokyo, Japan

1975

Galería Arte Contacto, Caracas, Venezuela

1974

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

 

Musée Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

 

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

 

Galerie Denise René, New York, NY, USA

1973

Estudio Dos, Valencia, Venezuela

 

Universidad Central de Venezuela, Caracas, Venezuela

 

Galleria Corsini, Intra (Lac Majeur), Italy

 

Galleria Godel, Rome, Italy

 

Galería Arte Contacto, Caracas, Venezuela

1972

Estudio Actual, Caracas, Venezuela

 

Galerie Beyeler, Basel, Switzerland

 

Galerie Alice Pauli, Lausanne, Switzerland

 

Galleria Levi, Milan, Italy

 

Formes et Muraux, Lyon, France

 

Marlborough Godard, Toronto, Canada

 

Museo de Arte Moderno, Bogotá, Colombia

1971

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL, USA

 

Akron Art Center, Akron, OH, USA

 

Galerie Denise René/Hans Mayer, Dusseldorf, Germany

 

Galleria Rotta, Milan, Italy

 

Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, Venezuela

 

Kunstverein, Kaiserslautern, Germany

 

Ariete Graphica, Milan, Italy

 

Galería de Arte, INCIBA, Palacio de las Industrias, Caracas, Venezuela

 

Museo de Arte Moderno, Bogotá, Colombia

1970

Galleria de la Nova Loggia, Bologne, Italy

 

Galerie Godard Lefort, Montréal, Canada

 

Kunstverein, Mannheim, Germany

 

Pfalzgalerie des Bezirksverbandes, Kaiserslautern, Germany

 

Ulmer Museum, Ulm, Germany

 

Galerie Semiha Huber, Zürich, Switzerland

 

Galerie Denise René, Paris, France

 

Galerija Suvremene Umjetnosti, Zagreb, Yugoslavia

 

Galerie Buchholz, Munich, Germany

1969

Galleria Notizie, Turin, Italy

 

Galleria del Naviglio, Milan, Italy

 

Galleria Flori, Florence, Italy

 

Galleria Giraldi, Livourne, Italy

 

Estudio Actual, Caracas, Venezuela

 

Svensk-Franska Konstgalleriet, Stockholm, Sweden

 

Galerie Bonnier, Geneva, Switzerland

 

Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, New York, NY, USA

 

Théâtre du Huitième, Lyon, France

1968

Galerie Françoise Mayer, Brussels, Belgium

 

Kunsthalle, Berne, Switzerland

 

Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hanover, Germany

 

Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Dusseldorf, Germany

 

Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

 

Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium

 

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

 

Marlborough Galleria d'Arte, Rome, Italy

 

Galleria Lorenzelli, Bergamo, Italy

1967

Galerie Denise René, Paris, France

 

Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, Venezuela

1966

Galerie Schmela, Dusseldorf, Germany

 

Pfalzgalerie des Bezirksverbandes, Kaiserslautern, Germany

 

Galleria del Naviglio, Milan, Italy

 

Galleria del Deposito, Genoa, Italy

 

Kootz Gallery, New York, NY, USA

 

Galleria del Cavallino, Venice, Italy

 

Centro Arte Viva-Feltrinelli, Trieste, Italy

1965

Kootz Gallery, New York, NY, USA

 

Galerie Edouard Loeb, Paris, France

 

Signals Gallery, London, UK

1964

Galerie Müller, Stuttgart, Germany

 

Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, Venezuela

1963

Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, Germany

1962

Galerie Ad Libitum, Anvers, Belgium

 

Galerie Edouard Loeb, Paris, France

1961

Galerie Rudolf Zwirner, Essen, Germany

 

Galerie Brusberg, Hanover, Germany

 

Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, Venezuela

1959

Galerie Iris Clert, Paris, France

 

Galleri Vallingatan, Stockholm, Sweden

1957

Galerie Aujourd'hui, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium

 

Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, Venezuela

1956

Galerie Denise René, Paris, France

1949

Taller Libre de Arte, Caracas, Venezuela

Selected Public Collections

Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, USA

Auckland City Art Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX, USA

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

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