Jesús Rafael Soto

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Jesús Rafael Soto
Jesús Rafael Soto (artist).jpg
Born (1923-06-05)June 5, 1923
Ciudad Bolívar
Died January 14, 2005(2005-01-14) (aged 81)
Nationality Venezuelan
Education Escuela de Artes Plasticas y Aplicadas
Notable work Penetrables
Movement Kinetic and Op Art

Jesús Rafael Soto (June 5, 1923 – January 14, 2005) was a Venezuelan op and kinetic artist, a sculptor and a painter.[1][2]

Early life and education[edit]

Soto was born in Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela. He began his artistic career as a boy painting cinema posters in his native city. He received his artistic training at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Artes Aplicadas in Caracas.[3]


Soto directed the Escuela de Artes Plasticas in Maracaibo from 1947 to 1950, when he left for Paris and began associating with Yaacov Agam, Jean Tinguely, Victor Vasarely, and other artists connected with the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles and the Galerie Denise René. Soto's breakthrough works of the 1950s and 1960s were "geometric abstract paintings, using a limited and carefully selected array of flat colors."[4] Caroni, for example, is a minimalist arrangement of static geometric forms in unmodulated silver, blue, and black inks on white paper.[5]

Soto was interested in perception,[6]and this is reflected in the interactive nature of some of his work. It has been said of Soto's art that it is inseparable from the viewer; it can only stand completed in the illusion perceived by the mind as a result of observing the piece.[citation needed] For example, Soto created the so-called Penetrables, interactive sculptures which consist of square arrays of thin, dangling tubes through which observers can walk. Soto made over 25 Penetrables in his career.[7]

The Soto sphere in Caracas

Soto early 1970s Photo: Lothar Wolleh

Jesús Rafael Soto died in 2005 in Paris, and is buried in the Cimetière du Montparnasse.


From 1970 until the early 1990s, Soto's works appeared in places such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, as well as the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.[8] In 2001, he participated in the SITE Santa Fe biennial.[9]


In 1973, the Jesús Soto Museum of Modern Art opened in Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela with a collection of his work. The Venezuelan architect Carlos Raúl Villanueva designed the building for the museum and the Italian op artist Getulio Alviani was called to direct it. Unlike conventional art galleries, a large number of the exhibits are wired to the electricity supply so that they can move.

Works by Jésus Rafael Soto are included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Blanton Museum of Art, Austin; Tate Gallery, London; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels; Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires; Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris; and Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Musei Vaticani, Vatican, Italy.[10]

Some of Soto's work adorns Caracas' main arts centre, the Teresa Carreño Cultural Complex.

Selected works[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]