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Yaacov Agam

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Yaacov Agam
יעקב אגם
Yaacov Agam in front of a building he decorated in Tel Baruch, Tel Aviv, Israel
Yaakov Gipstein

(1928-05-11) May 11, 1928 (age 96)
EducationThe Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, the Kunstgewerbe Schule
Occupation(s)Sculptor and experimental artist
Known forContributions to optical and kinetic art
Fire and Water Fountain, Tel Aviv 2015

Yaacov Agam (Hebrew: יעקב אגם; born 11 May 1928) is an Israeli sculptor and experimental artist widely known for his contributions to optical and kinetic art.

Early life, family and education[edit]

Yaacov Gibstein (later Agam) was born in Mandate Palestine. His father, Yehoshua Gibstein, was a rabbi and a kabbalist.

Agam trained at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, before moving to Zürich, Switzerland in 1949, where he studied under Johannes Itten (1888–1967) at the Kunstgewerbe Schule. He was influenced by the painter and sculptor Max Bill (1908–1994).

In 1951 Agam moved to Paris, France, where he still resides.[1]

Artistic career[edit]

Agam's first solo exhibition was at the Galerie Craven, Paris, in 1953,[2] and he exhibited three works at the 1954 Salon des Réalités Nouvelles[3] and at the Le Mouvement exhibition at the Galerie Denise René, Paris, in 1955.

Agam's work is usually abstract, kinetic art, with movement, viewer participation and frequent use of light and sound. His works are placed in many public places. His best-known pieces include Double Metamorphosis III (1965), Visual Music Orchestration (1989), the fountain at the La Défense district in Paris (1975) and the Fire and Water Fountain in the Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv (1986). He is also known for a type of print known as an "Agamograph", which uses barrier-grid animation to present radically different images, depending on the angle from which it is viewed. The lenticular technique was executed in large scale in the 30 ft (9.1 m) square "Complex Vision" (1969), mounted on the facade of the Callahan Eye Foundation Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama.[4]

Agam had a retrospective exhibition in Paris at the Musée National d'Art Moderne in 1972, and at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City in 1980, among others. His works are held in numerous museum collections including the Museum of Modern Art[5] and the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum.[6]

He is the subject of two 20th century documentary films by American filmmaker Warren Forma: Possibilities of Agam (1967) and Agam and... (1980).

In 1996, he was awarded the Jan Amos Comenius Medal by UNESCO for the "Agam Method" for visual education of young children.

He designed and created the winner's trophy for the 1999 Eurovision Song Contest that was held in Jerusalem.[citation needed]

In 2009, at age 81, Agam created Peaceful Communication with the World, a monument for the World Games in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. It consists of nine 10 m (33 ft) high hexagonal pillars positioned in a rhomboid formation. The sides of the pillars are painted in different patterns and hues..[7]

One of Agam's more notable creations is the Hanukkah Menorah at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 59th Street in New York City, sponsored by the Lubavitch Youth Organization. The 32 ft (9.8 m) high, gold colored, 4,000 lb (1,800 kg) steel structure is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the "world's largest Hanukkah menorah".[8][9]

In May 2014, Agam's piece Faith- Visual Pray was presented to Pope Francis by El Al Israel Airlines's president, David Maimon. The piece included significant symbols of both Jewish and Christian faiths.[10]

Agam's work commands the highest prices of any Israeli artist. In a Sotheby's New York auction in November 2009, when his 4 Themes Contrepoint was sold for $326,500, he said: "This does not amaze me … my prices will go up, in keeping with the history I made in the art world."[11]

In 2018, the Yaacov Agam Museum of Art (YAMA) opened in the artist's hometown of Rishon LeZion, Israel.[12] Agam told the Jerusalem Post that it is "the only museum in the world that is dedicated to art in motion."[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ronen, Avraham (16 July 1998). "Agam Reconsidered". The Israel Review of Arts and Letters. Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs – via mfa.gov.il.
  2. ^ Exhibition at Galerie Craven, Paris, 30 October–12 November 1953. Ragon, p. 33.
  3. ^ Ragon, p. 7.
  4. ^ "Callahan Eye Foundation Hospital". health.uab.edu. Archived from the original on 13 January 2002. Retrieved 22 December 2010.
  5. ^ Agam, Yaacov (1975). "Coordination II, Screenprint". MOMA.org. Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 22 December 2010.
  6. ^ Agam, Yaacov (1974). "Portfolio Suite 3, Screenprint". Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum. Retrieved 22 December 2010.
  7. ^ Hsu, Jenny W. (24 February 2009). "Agam Installation Exemplifies Peace for Upcoming Kaohsiung World Games". The Taipei Times. Retrieved 22 December 2010.
  8. ^ Skillings, Pamela. "Hanukkah Events in New York City". About.com. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 22 December 2010.
  9. ^ Margolin, Dovid (1 January 2017). "The Woman Behind the Fifth Avenue Menorah". Chabad.org. Retrieved 28 November 2021.
  10. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: Israeli Artist Yaacov Agam Explains Jewish Kinetic Rainbow Painting Presented to Pope Francis". The Algemeiner. 29 May 2014. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  11. ^ Burg, Avital (20 December 2010). "Art work by Israel's Yaacov Agam sells for record-breaking sum in N.Y. In an auction organized by Sotheby's, 'Growth' sets a new high for sales price received by any Israeli artist in history". Haaretz. Retrieved 22 December 2010.
  12. ^ Leichman, Abigail Klein (22 January 2018). "Yaacov Agam Museum of Art opens in Rishon LeZion". Israel21c.org. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  13. ^ "Agam Museum in Rishon Lezion celebrates renowned Israeli artist". The Jerusalem Post | Jpost.com. Retrieved 15 March 2019.


  • Ragon, Michel (1975). Agam: 54 mots cles pour une lecture polyphonique d'Agam (in French). Paris: Éditions Georges Fall. OCLC 2876738.
  • Sayako Aragaki (2007). Agam. Beyond the Visible (3 ed.). Gefen Publishing House, Jerusalem/New York. ISBN 978-965-229-405-0.
  • Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1980). Homage to Yaacov Agam. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum exhibition. Leon Amiel, New York. ISBN 978-0-8148-0751-4.
  • Frank Popper (1968). Origins and Development of Kinetic Art. Studio Vista and New York Graphic Society.
  • Frank Popper (1990). Yaacov Agam (3 ed.). H.N. Abrams, New York. ISBN 978-0-8109-1897-9.

External links[edit]