SOTO, Jesús Rafael (1923-2005)

Two-part installation: Yellow section-2,38 x 11,85 x 1,50 m; Blue section-2,03 x 10,40 x 2,58 m
Date of entry at UNESCO
Country of origin Venezuela
Acquisition made by UNESCO in 1970
© Photo: UNESCO/N. Burke

These installations represent the convergence of all of Jesús Rafael Soto’s research relating to time, space and movement. This establishes the subtle meeting between his works and the laws and phenomena of nature.

Many of Soto’s works are intended to be integrated into the environment; the names of his works are characteristic of his message: "extension", "growth", "vibrant interference", or "volume". These titles qualify a work that is always evolving, moving and never static. Soto does not wish to represent an instant or freeze a particular moment, on the contrary: he aims for eternity, which is made possible thanks to the different spectator’s gaze who, in order to appreciate the work, must immerse themself in it. For Soto, art must live on after its creator through the public’s eyes.

In the work "Matter, space and time are one," Soto wants to show how the elements evolve with each other to form one whole, hence the explicit title. It is through an optical effect, obtained by the spectator’s movement around the work, that Soto creates virtual volumes that seem suspended in space. His work allows for the creation of apparently three-dimensional structures obtained thanks to a variation of vertical and horizontal fringes of color.

Soto himself said at the end of his life: "Tomorrow, as yesterday, my art will remain linked to the random, keeping from trying to express the definitive, the immutable. (...) The world, for me, is random. My work should also be the same."

Biography of the artist

Jesús Rafael Soto was born in Ciudad Bolivar in Venezuela on June 5, 1923; he moved to Paris in 1950. He began with abstract painting, before moving to Op Art, and later kinetic art, of which he is considered the principal instigator and master. In 1955 he participated in the exhibition "Movement" held at the Denise René Gallery in Paris. 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 passed away in Paris on 14 January 2005.