Jesús Rafael Soto (Venezuelan, 1923-2005) Untitled 1969
Lot 35
Jesús Rafael Soto
(Venezuelan, 1923-2005)
Untitled
1969
Sold for £ 100,000 (US$ 131,696) inc. premium

Lot Details
Jesús Rafael Soto (Venezuelan, 1923-2005) Untitled 1969
Jesús Rafael Soto (Venezuelan, 1923-2005)
Untitled
1969

acrylic, aluminum and wood

50 by 75.7 by 16 cm.
19 11/16 by 29 13/16 by 6 5/16 in.

This work was executed in 1969.

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Marlborough Galleria d'Arte, Rome
    Galleria Notizie, Turin
    Acquired directly from the above by the present owner circa 1975

    Exhibited
    Turin, Galleria Notizie, 1 e 2: Mostra Collettiva da Aprile a Maggio 1970, 1970, p. 6, illustrated in black and white



    The works of Jesús Rafael Soto constantly compel us to question our reality. They confuse and amaze, appearing to move whilst staying still, apparently creating volume where there is in fact void, making us see colour where no colour exists. In Untitled of 1969 we discover these surprising effects which can be produced from the juxtaposition of seemingly simple shapes, forms and colours. Existing somewhere between a painting and a sculpture, this notable work from the most important period of the artist's career is being offered at auction for the first time after more than forty years in a distinguished private collection.

    Although the geometric forms of Untitled never move, this is a work of art which is constantly morphing and changing. It casts shifting shadows which play with our perceptions, creating complex patterns on the strict monochrome lines of the backboard. His works appear to oscillate and vibrate, almost blur, with the effect changing as one moves about the works. His technique stems from the concept of shapes and colours offset against a moiré patterned grid, seen to stunning effect in the present work. Though his works aren't motorised nor are they built to move, this striking optical effect would go on to make him an influential forerunner of the Kinetic art movement.

    The materials used are hard and industrial, the lines crisp and clean, with no evidence of the artist's hand. This almost mechanical modernity, so evocative of 1960s technological innovation, is vital to the impact of the work. Whilst associated geographically and aesthetically with the Geometric Abstractionists of Latin America, his works are wholly unique, separating themselves from the overt political undertones of his contemporaries. The singular elements which Soto used to make these works is of secondary importance, instead the viewer's interaction with the work is what proved most important: "My works are classical, without confusion or mystification. I work with very simple elements. These elements are in themselves unimportant. A piece of wire, a few lines – what are they? More important will be the relationships which they bring into being" (the artist in: Patrick Frank Ed., Manifestos and Polemics in Latin American Modern Art, Albuquerque 2017, p. 147).

    The late 1960s were the years in which Soto reached his creative zenith. Having moved to Paris from his native Venezuela in 1950, he fell in with a crowd of experimental artists who had strong links with the iconic gallery run in the French capital by Denise René. By 1965 he was focused almost exclusively on the use of geometric forms and synthetic materials and in the years that followed his work was shown in galleries around the world. By 1969, the year the present work was created, his unique style was becoming ever more desirable to both museum curators and collectors, however of equal importance was his enormous influence on other artists. Consequently, he was celebrated in solo exhibitions at prestigious institutions including the: Kunsthalle, Berne, the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels and the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.

    Even in the decade since his death, his international reputation has only continued to grow, with his work included in recent blockbuster shows such as Radical Geometry at the Royal Academy of Arts, London and a retrospective at the Centre Pompidou, Paris. His influence on a wide variety of artists and movements, particularly Kinetic and Op art, is reflected in his inclusion in a variety of exhibitions including Zero: Countdown to Tomorrow at the Guggenheim, New York and Eye Attack: Op Art 1950-1970 at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark amongst many others. Soto's place amongst the greats of the late Twentieth Century avant-garde art is assured; Untitled of 1969, so redolent of its time, but also so relevant to today, leaves us in no doubt as to why he remains one of the most revered and influential figures in contemporary art.
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