Jesus Rafael Soto 1923-2005

Artist biography

Jésus-Rafael Soto born 1923

Venezuelan artist resident in Paris; a pioneer of Op art. Born in Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela. Studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Caracas 1942-7, where he formed friendships with his fellow students Cruz-Diez and Otero. Director of the School of Fine Arts in Maracaibo 1947-50. First one-man exhibition at the Taller Libre de Arte, Caracas, 1949. Moved to Paris in 1950, earning his living in the early 1950s by playing the guitar. Influenced by Mondrian's late works, set out to make forms appear to move optically. Made paintings from 1951 based on the repetition of identical geometrical units, then 1952-7 superimposed sheets of perspex marked with a stripe or spiral pattern in front of a patterned plane; the movement of the spectator caused the lines to appear to move, vibrate and dematerialise. Made 'Vibration Structures', with a wire structure in front of a background of black and white lines, and from 1962 paintings with suspended bars, fixed plaques, etc. From 1965 made a number of wall-sized pieces, with repetition of identical units, followed by environmental installations known as 'Penetrables', with a great number of hanging rods or threads. Founded a museum of modern art at Ciudad Bolivar in 1973. Lives in Paris.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.696-7