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Major Survey Exhibition of Artist Jésus Rafael Soto: 1955 to 2004 at Haunch of Venison

May 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Art Events & Exhibitions

NEW YORK, NY.- Together with the Estate of Jésus Rafael Soto, Haunch of Venison presents a major survey exhibition of the Venezuelan artist (1923 – 2005) from May 6th to July 1st 2011. This is the first substantial exhibition of the artist in New York since his 1974 solo show at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York which later traveled to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington DC. Soto is recognized as one of the most important and influential Latin American artists of the 20th century and is also widely regarded as a major figure in the Group Zero movement.

In the 1950s and 1960s his collaboration with Group Zero artists, including Otto Piene, Heinz Mack, Gunther Uecker, Yves Klein, Lucio Fontana and Jean Tinguely, made him part of an unprecedented artistic exchange which stressed unity on an intellectual and creative level. This international dialogue transcended political borders as artists throughout Europe engaged and collaborated in an effort to stagnate some of the catastrophic divisiveness which had bought upon WWII. Throughout his fifty-year career Soto created a large body of work with a focus on the manipulation of chromatic color, line and the relationship between background and foreground; he was also considered to be one of the first Kinetic artists.

Jesus Rafael Soto Cuadrado Azul con Tes 580x388 Major Survey Exhibition of Artist Jésus Rafael Soto: 1955 to 2004 at Haunch of Venison
Jesus Rafael Soto, Cuadrado Azul con Tes (Blue Square with Tes), 2004. Paint on wood and metal, 40 1/2 x 40 1/8 x 6 3/4 in. (103 x 102 x 17 cm.

Although his early inspirations were Cubism and Cezanne, Soto soon began painting his first optic works shortly after moving to Paris in the 1950s. Soto’s paintings began to display sculptural qualities as he added three-dimensional components such as wires and metal bars as backgrounds. Highlights from the exhibition include Structure Cinétique from 1955 in which Soto’s visual investigation is centered on the movement of geometric lines, creating visual effects infused with an energy that make his work highly kinetic. With Vibration Blanc et Jaune, (paint on wood and metal, 1959), Soto examines the effects of combining hurried black lines dynamically interrupted by yellow and white.

Soto considered elements and the relations of the elements of high importance. “We recognize the existence of relations in every lucid moment of our behavior,” said the artist, “We are amazed by the laws of chance, without realizing that we are merely becoming aware of realities which we had not dreamed existed.” He created an opportunity for the viewer to feel the interconnected energy of the universe.

In his later works such as Ovoide mediano negro y rojo from 2003, Soto also explored the relations between components, materials and movement, always including the notion of space. This three-dimensional sculpture made up of thin tubing creates a visual dynamism that evolves through the movement and change of perspective of the viewer in front of the artwork. Soto’s relationship with space, which he considered essentially ambiguous, dates back to 1968 when he created his first Penetrable which he described as “the materialization of the idea which gave rise to my thoughts about the state of the space of the universe, completely occupied by relations.”

Soto died in 2005 in Paris. His work is included in important public collections worldwide such as Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and MoMA, New York; Tate Modern, London; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Sprengel Museum, Hanover; Louisiana Museum, Humlebæk; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam and the LACMA, Los Angeles. In 1973, the artist founded the Museo de Arte Moderno Jesús Soto in his hometown Cuidad Bolívar in Venezuela.

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