Jesús Rafael Soto (1923-2005) was a Venezuelan artist known for his kinetic sculptures and large-scale installations. Like Alexander Calder and George Rickey, Soto’s delicate and responsive constructions react to external stimuli and changes in the atmosphere, as seen in his work Penetrable (1990).
“Artistic creation is a force which should preferably be directed towards the exploration of space, of the universe, of the infinite realities which surround us, but of which we are hardly conscious,” Soto once mused. Born on June 5, 1923 in Cuidad Bolívar, Venezuela, he studied at the Escuela des artes plásticas in Caracas from 1942–1947 and later served as the director of the Escuela de bellas artes in Maracaibo, Venezuela until his move to Europe in 1950. Settling in Paris, he associated with the Op Art artists Victor Vasarely and Yaacov Agam, as well as members of the ZERO group such as Otto Piene, Jean Tinguely, and Heinz Mack.
In 1973, the Museo de arte modern Jesús Soto opened in his hometown of Ciuadad Bolivar, focusing on the work of Soto and artists he admired, including Kazimir Malevich and Man Ray. The artist died on January 14, 2005 in Paris, France at the age of 81. Today, his works are held in the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires, among others.