32 x 32 x 15.6 cm
Screenprint on acrylic glass, wooden box
Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Donated by Sammlung Rolf und Friedel Gutmann
Jesús Rafael Soto (born 1923 in Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela, died 2005 in Paris, France) earned his reputation as an important representative of Kinetic art in the 1960s. After studying at the Escuela de artes plásticas y artes aplicadas in Caracas from 1942 to 1947, and after working briefly as a teacher at the School of Art in Maracaibo, he went to Paris on a grant in 1950. There, he got to know several Concrete and Kinetic artists who were connected to the galleries of Denise René and Arnaud. Combined with his studies of the early Constructivists, this brought about a radical change in his work. Also a sometime musician, Soto began to work with permutational and progressive ordering principles that were inspired by the compositional structures of Bach, Schönberg, and serialism. In the 1950s, he became fascinated with scientific insights regarding the nature and correlation of matter, space, and time, and he began to increasingly explore the question of how “to restore matter to its actual state, which is energy, or more precisely, how the elements I use in the construction of my works dissolve in a fusion of space and time, thereby losing their solidity and transforming into an aleatoric state of vibration.” In his search for suitable materials, Soto began to experiment with industrial materials, like acrylic glass, metal rods, and nylon tubes. He moved away from small objects like his “Kinetic Box” and increasingly began to make large-format, optically vibrant wall objects with an outright hypnotic effect. At the end of the 1960s, Soto took his work to another level when he integrated space into his art. The monumental installations from this time, some of which hang, while others stand, with their overwhelming opulence would earn him international fame.
Among all of Soto’s works, the “Pénétrables,” which he began producing in 1967, are special in that they are interactive. Beholders moving through a space of hanging plastic tubes create waves that pass through the entire structure, resulting in an experience that affects the entire body. According to Soto, the “Pénétrables” belong to the realm of Conceptual art. Because they are environments that can be assembled and dismantled easily – for the most part, they can be installed temporarily and are not bound to any certain location – these works are even more relevant today.