Jesús Rafael Soto

(b. 1923 - 2005 )


As one of the most intriguing artistic minds, Jesús Rafael Soto’s quest for aesthetic representation of the immaterial and rejection of the figurative, as well as the traditional geometric form, resulted in a fresh and interactive experience for viewers. For the first time in art history Jesús Soto invited viewers to step into works of art with his penetrables. 

Soto was born in Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela in 1923. He was trained at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Artes Aplicadas in Caracas. Soto found his inspiration in the 1950’s Parisian avant-garde, which was heavily influenced by constructivist art. He moved to Paris and connected with Jean Tinguely, Victor Vasarely, Yaacov Agam, and many others associated with the Salon des Realités and the Galerie Denise Renée. Soto would also claim optical artists Kazimir Malevich, Yves Klein and Piet Mondrian as foundational pillars of his creative and conceptual process, especially becuase of their utter lack of attention to the “object” in favor of an exploration and materialization of the ephemeral. This idea is marked in Malevich’s infamous work, White Square on White Background, which as Soto described in 1969, was “light on light… with no need for the objects we normally use to capture it.”

Soto rebelled against the constraints of both, two- and three-dimensionality, as well as color theory but still managed to cultivate his own stylistic modus operandi, which involved the viewer. This attention to the viewer, in order to create an experience, is what associated Soto to the kinetic art movement. Through mixed media, the displacement of pictorial planes, scale, and colors his works revealed subtle relationships between movement of color and objects. Soto described in 1965 in Signals News Bulletin his interest in depicting “the existence of relationships in every lucid moment of our behavior… the laws of chance, becoming aware of realities we had not previously thought about.”

Soto learned to materialize the nonphysical, moving realities of our world, such as passing time and shifting space. Although often associated with his large-scale three-dimensional penetrable, consisting of groups of thin, dangling tubes through which observers are able to pass, as well as his “vibrations,” consisting of colored backgrounds interacting with moving metal wires and colored lines, Soto identified himself as a painter. In his own words, “the feeling of space-time has always been a major concern of the painter more than the sculptor… [and] painting has always been closer to shifting and metamorphosis.”

More About Soto 

Solo Exhibitions: 

1949 – Taller Libre de Arte, Caracas, Venezuela

1956 – Galerie Denise Rene, Paris

1957 – Galerie Aujourd’hui, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels

1957 – Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, Venezuela

1959 – Galerie Iris Clert, Paris

1961 – Galerie Rudolf Zwirner, Essen

1961 – Galerie Brusberg, Hanover, Germany

1961 – Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, Venezuela

1962 – Galerie Ad Libitum, Amberes, France

1962 – Galerie Edouard Loeb, Paris

1963 – Haus Lange Museum, Krefeld, Germany

1964 – Galerie Muller, Stuttgart, Germany

1965 – Kootz Gallery, New York

1965 – Galerie Edouard Loeb, Paris

1965 – Signals, London

1966 – Galerie Schmela, Dusseldorf, Germany

1966 – Galleria del Navigho, Milan

1966 – Kootz Gallery, New York

1966 – Galleria del Deposito, Genoa, Italy

1966 – Centre de l’Art Vivant, Trieste, Italy

1966 – Pfalzgalerie, Kaiserslautern, Germany

1966 – Galeria del Cavallino, Venice, Italy

1967 – Galerie Denise Rene, Paris

1968 – Galerie Francoise Mayer, Brussels, Belgium

1968 – Kunsthalle, Bern, Switzerland

1968 – Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hanover, Germany

1968 – Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

1968 – Marlborough Galleria d’Arte, Rome

1968 – Kunstverein fur die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Dusseldorf

1969 – Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels

1969 – Galleria Lorenzelli, Bergamo

1969 – Galleria Notizie, Turin

1969 – Galleria del Navigho, Milan

1969 – Galleria Flori, Florence

1969 – Galleria Giraldi, Livorno

1969 – Estudio Actual, Caracas, Venezuela

1969 – Musee d’Art Moderne de Ia VIIIE de Paris

1969 – Svensk-Franska Kunstgalleriet, Stockholm, Sweden

1969 – Marlborough Gerson Gallery, New York

1970 – Galleria de la Nova Loggia, Bologna, Italy.

1970 – Galerie Suvremene Umietnosti Zagreb, Yugoslavia

1970 – Kunstverein, Mannheim, Germany

1970 – Museum of Ulm, Germany

1970 – Galerie Denise Rene, Paris

1970 – Galerie Bonnier, Geneva

1970 – Galerie Godart Leffort, Montreal

1970 – Galerie Semiha Huber, Zurich

1970 – Galerie Buchholz, Munich, Germany

1971 – Museum of Modern Art, Chicago

1971 – Kunstverein, Kaiserslautern, Germany

1971 – Galerie Denise Rene, Dusseldorf, Germany

1971 – Galerie Denise Rene, Dusseldorf, Germany

1971 – Galleria Rotta, Milan

1971 – Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas

1971 – Martha Jackson Gallery, New York

1972 – Galerie Beyeler, Basel, Switzerland

1972 – Galerie Alice Pauli, Lausanne, Switzerland

1972 – Galleria Levi, Milan

1972 – Estudlo Actual, Caracas, Venezuela

1972 – Formes dt Muraux, Lyon, France

1973 – Galleria Corsini, Rome

1973 – Universidad Central de Venezuela, Caracas

1973 – Galeria Arte/Contacto, Caracas, Venezuela

1973 – Estudio Dos, Valencia, Venezuela

1973 – Galeria Godel, Rome

1974 – The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

1974 – Galeria Arte/Contacto, Caracas, Venezuela

1974 – Galeria Denise Rene, New York

1975 – Joseph Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.

1975 – Galeria Arte/Contacto, Caracas, Venezuela

1980 – Universidad Simón Bolívar, Caracas, Venezuela.

1988 – Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, San Juan, Porto Rico.

1990 – Itami City Museum of Art, Itami, Japan.

1993 – Museo de Arte Moderno – Fundación Jesús Soto, Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela

2005 – MoLAA Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach (California), U.S.A.

2012 – NYU Grey Art Gallery, “Soto: Paris and beyond”, New York, U.S.