Jesús Rafael Soto
Jesús Rafael Soto was born in 1923 in Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela, and died in 2005 in Paris, France. He was one of the main exponents of Kinetic art, the art of movement. He served as director of the Escuela de Bellas Artes in Maracaibo, Venezuela, then received a scholarship that allowed him to move to Paris in 1950. He took part in Le Mouvement (Movement) at Galerie Denise René in Paris, the 1955 exhibition that effectively launched Kinetic art. He also had works in the exhibitions of the ZERO group in an exploration of immateriality. In his earliest works, Soto was already endeavouring to move beyond representation of two-dimensional geometric shapes and introduced movement using the device of repetition. The viewer is central to Soto’s œuvre. In 1967, he produced his first Pénétrables, works composed of metal rods and nylon strands hanging in space.
The first major solo exhibitions of Soto’s work took place in 1968, at the Kunsthalle in Berne, Switzerland, and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. More solo exhibitions followed at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1969; the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, USA, in 1974; and, the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas, Venezuela, in 1983. More recent Soto-centred exhibitions include those at the Musée du Jeu de Paume in Paris in 1997; the Centro Cultural del Conde Duque in Madrid, Spain, in 1998; a major traveling retrospective exhibition in 2005 entitled Visión en Movimiento at the Museo Tamayo, Mexico; the Proa Foundation, Argentina; and the Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Bergamo, Italy.
Soto was commissioned to make numerous monumental works for public spaces and buildings around the world, including at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, 1969; the Teatro Teresa Carreño in Caracas, 1972; the Grand Hall de la Régie Renault in Paris, 1975; the Royal Bank of Toronto, Canada in 1977; the Centro Banaven in Caracas, 1979; and the Centre Pompidou in Paris, 1987. In 1973, with the aid of his architect friend Carlos Raul Villanueva, Soto built the Museo de Arte Moderno Jesús Soto in his native city of Ciudad Bolivar to house the sizeable collection of geometric and kinetic works he amassed throughout his life. The museum also contains many of Soto’s own most important works.