Jesús Rafael Soto (1923-2005), kinetic and op artist

Who They Were

Born in Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela, Jesús Rafael Soto started painting as a young boy. He would reproduce the cinema posters he saw on theater walls and he eventually went on to study art within the city itself. He had started to become more prolific with his stylings at the end of the Second World War, although by 1950 he left Venezuela in order to study further in Paris. Here, he worked under several important artists. As is the case with any artistic movement, Jesús Rafael Soto had to buck the trend and create something unique and original. He found his first real success when he started to produce geometric, abstract paintings.

Now, that did not prove to be all that original, as cubism and the other offshoots of the style had been around for over 50 years. However, he used a very minimalist arrangement in order to produce his paintings, using only a handful of colors, such as silver, blue and black on white canvas. He eventually went on to produce sculptures. His major artistic works were known as Penetrables, which were interactive sculptures.

What They Did

Jesús Rafael Soto helped introduce the world to the interactive sculptures. Until this time, few artists were creating art the viewer could actually interact with. During his career, he produced over 25. The sculptures would typically look like something completely different from afar and then, as a viewer would walk through it, it would take on a different shape and meaning. Eventually, the Jesús Rafael Soto Museum of Modern Art opened in the early 70s in order to show off his style of art. He eventually died in 2005 and is now buried in Paris.

What Made Them Famous

The Penetrables made Jesús Rafael Soto famous not only in his home country of Venezuela, but throughout the world and in the art community. He held several major exhibitions around the world, including the Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Centre George Pompidou in Paris. As some of the most important museums in the world, only a select few artists are able to have this kind of claim to fame, especially while alive. There are now several different Jesús Rafael Soto collections around the world, ranging from New York to Buenos Aires, Tokyo to Vatican City, Italy. All of this shows how important his art is.