Jesús Rafael Soto (Venezuelan 1923-2005)
PROPERTY FROM THE TREMAINE COLLECTION
Jesús Rafael Soto (Venezuelan 1923-2005)

Kinetic Structure

Details
Jesús Rafael Soto (Venezuelan 1923-2005)
Kinetic Structure
signed and dated 'Soto 59' (on the verso)
wire, ink and oil on masonite panel
11½ x 7½ x 7½ in. (29.2 x 19 x 19 cm.)
Executed in 1959.
Provenance
Galerie Denise René, Paris.
Acquired from the above by the present owner (1976).

Lot Essay

Born in Ciudad Bolivar in 1923, the Venezuelan artist Jesus Rafael Soto settled in Paris in 1950 and immediately became immersed in the study of pure non-figurative art as seen through the work of such modern masters as Mondrian and Malevich. Critical to his development during this period was his immersion into the Parisian milieu of such abstract and kinetic artists as Yaacov Agam, Jean Tinguely, and Victor Vasarely. By 1955, Soto was included in the landmark exhibition "Mouvement" at the pioneering Galerie Denise René in Paris. Organized by René and Victor Vasarely the exhibition introduced the work of several young artists including Tinguely, Agam, Pol Bury, and Soto--all of whom would subsequently become central to the kinetic movement.

The 1950s were perhaps one of Soto's most experimental periods as it was during this time that he laid the conceptual foundations for his subsequent work. Indeed it was during these early years that Soto became particularly fascinated with the possibilities of translating the virtual movement of Mondrian's geometric forms into three-dimensional space. His early work from this decade consisted of two dimensional optical compositions comprised of irregular geometric patterns that would eventually give way to mixed media works that push the boundaries between drawing, painting and sculpture while simultaneously dissolving into space through subtle visual effects in relation to the movement of the viewer.

Kinetic Structure is a rare example of Soto's work from the late 1950s and dovetails well with two of his most well known series initiated during this period--the Vibrations and the Ècritures. The fractured white lines set against a muted, painted black background recall his earlier two-dimensional optical compositions. While the thin tangled wire suspended from above and hanging in front of the painted surface not only break from the more geometric elements of his earlier work and disrupt the two-dimensional space but their dematerializing effects set the entire composition in motion. Likewise these seemingly precarious elements foreshadow the twisted wires of his later drawings in space or Ècritures. Soto's experiments in geometry and kinetic art not only placed him at the forefront of postwar international art but his dialogue with Mondrian in many ways reanimated the possibilities of modernism. Today Soto is considered one of the leading exponents of geometric abstraction, and kinetic and op art and his impressive body of work fundamental to the reexamination and reappraisal of mid-twentieth century global vanguard art practices.
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