Jesús Rafael Soto - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Wednesday, March 7, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Denise René, Paris
    Peter Stuyvesant Collection, Amsterdam (acquired from the above in 1968)
    Their sale, Sotheby's, Amsterdam, 8 March 2010, lot 20
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    St Gallen, Kunstmuseum; Musée dans l'Usine, Collection Peter Stuyvesant / Das Museum in der Fabrik. Sammlung Peter Stuyvesant, 18 April - 31 May 1970
    Den Haag, Pulchri Studio, Peter Stuyvesant Collectie, 1972
    Tilburg, Kultureel Centrum, Peter Stuyvesant Collectie, 1979
    Hasselt, Provinciaal Museum, A Choice Within a Choice, 1981 - 1982
    Leiden, Stedelijk Museum De Lakenhal, Beelden Bekijken, 15 September - 25 November 1984
    Paris, Institut Néerlandais, L'art dans l'Usine. 38 artistes de la Collection Peter Stuyvesant, 24 October - 30 November 1986, pp. 46 - 47 (illustrated)
    Zevenaar, Turmac, 30 Jaar Peter Stuyvesant Collectie: Hommage à Spinoza, 1990
    Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Art Works: International Modern Art in the Industrial Working Environment, an Experiment over more than Thirty Years, Peter Stuyvesant Foundation, 1991-1992, p. 159 (illustrated)
    Seville, World Expo 1992; Barcelona, Fundación Joan Miró; Zaragoza, Palacio de la Lonja; Valencia, Museo de la Ciudad, El Arte Funciona, 20 April - 12 October 1992, no. 68 (illustrated)
    Zug, Huberte Goote Gallery, Kunst der Moderne. Eine Auswahl von Original - Kunstwerken aus den Sammlungen der Cartier Foundation Jouy-en Josas, der Peter Stuyvesant Foundation Amsterdam und der Richemont Art Foundation Zug, 1 November 1992 - 10 February 1993

  • Literature

    Die acht Seligkeiten des Jesus Rafael Soto, exh. cat., Kunsthalle Bern, 1968, n.p.

  • Catalogue Essay

    One of the most significant artists of the 20th century, Jesús Rafael Soto is a world renowned pioneer of kinetic and optical art. A key manifestation of Soto’s exploration into oscillating geometric and organic forms, Métal sur le Losange is a particularly striking example of the artist’s eloquent sculptural reliefs that dominated his oeuvre throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Active within a wide variety of artistic movements, including the Nouveau Réalistes and a central member of the Zero art group, alongside Lucio Fontana and Yves Klein, Soto’s body of work is truly remarkable in presenting a new form of artistic visual language. The present work perfectly embodies the artist’s profound ideas in his experimentation with linear constructions in a way which blends together many important elements of Soto’s earlier oeuvre, particularly his preoccupation with viewer participation and collage as a medium.

    Executed in 1968, at the height of his artistic career, the present work tests the boundaries of perception and spatial interaction. The thin aluminium rods cut across the geometric circular background, as the artist plays with the viewer perception, blurring the image beneath. Hanging, suspending and projecting from the installation, Soto’s experimentation with metal rods infused amongst circular compositions would become a reoccurring motif within his work. The artist’s compositional construction bares the hallmarks of the Russian Constructivists; the present work echoes elements of the Russian avant-gardist El Lissitzky, as Soto continues the dialogue of his two dimensional creations into the third dimension. Equally important is Soto’s consideration of the viewer’s experience which lies at the centre of his philosophy. The present work entices the viewer to inspect and walk around the suspended object, investigating whether the object’s movement promotes any interesting fluctuations in light. Through the present work the artist seeks to actively engage his audience, rather than promote a passive response from the fixed and static position of the viewer, as exemplified in the present work.

    At the beginning of his artistic career, Soto was drawn to the naturalist painting of Venezuelan historical painters of the early 20th century. His practice drastically transformed upon exposure to the still lives of Georges Braque, from then on his mind was preoccupied with the impact of space within the pictorial field. The artist would continue to show the significance of space within his practice, stating, ‘the important thing is to show that space is fluid and full, because it has always been considered—as in the Renaissance—a place where things can be put, more than a primal universal value’ (Ariel Jiménez, Conversations with Jesús Soto, Caracas, 2005, p. 179.).

    Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Soto collaborated with Zero artists, whose ethos stressed unity on an intellectual and creative level, sharing an aspiration to transform and redefine art in the aftermath of World War Two. Soto’s collage works drew the attention of the gallerist Denise René who invited the artist to contribute to the historic 1955 exhibition Le Mouvement, which established him as a key figure within an international community of avant-garde artists. This period was of the upmost importance to the artist, as he arrived at three fundamental breakthroughs in his practice, including ‘the innovative use of industrial materials; the introduction of transparent and opaque planes to suggest a penetrable, open quality to the work; and the integration of light as a dynamic means of altering an object’s visual perception by the moving spectator’ (Jesús Rafael Soto, quoted in Estrellita B. Brodsky, ed., Soto: Paris and Beyond, New York, 2012, p. 23).

    A pioneer of experimenting with form, medium and movement to create graceful and wondrous objects of intrigue, Métal sur le Losange exemplifies Soto’s mastery of his key aims which he explored throughout his practice. A celebration of both nature and humanity, the present work traverses the dichotomy between light and dark, heaviness and lightness, ethereality and materiality. It is in this way that the present work is truly an exemplary composition which evokes many of Soto’s key modernist concepts, namely his nuanced skill of involving the viewer in the direct effect of the work.

  • Artist Biography

    Jesús Rafael Soto

    Venezuelan • 1923 - 2005

    Jesús Rafael Soto was born in Ciudad Bolívar and studied at the School of Visual and Applied Arts in Caracas. During this period he became acquainted with Los Disidentes, a group of artists that included Alejandro Otero and Carlos Cruz-Diez. In addition to his fellow compatriots, Soto’'s work was influenced by Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian.

    The main artistic tenets evinced in Soto's works are pure abstraction, vibrations, progressions and geometric rigor. They can be seen through the use of lines and superimposed squares in his sculptures, made with paint and a series of industrial and synthetic materials. He spent much time in Europe, becoming a key member of the Group Zero movement, which included such artists as Lucio Fontana, Gunther Uecker and Yves Klein. As a result, Soto's work also incorporates modernist concepts such as light, time, movement, color manipulation and space. All of these facets place him as an important figure within the Kinetic and Op Art movements.

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Property from the Triton Collection Foundation


Métal sur le Losange

oil on panel with metal rods and nylon wire
137.5 x 137.5 x 60 cm (54 1/8 x 54 1/8 x 23 5/8 in.)
Executed in 1968.

£180,000 - 250,000 

Sold for £321,000

Contact Specialist
Henry Highley
Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4061

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 8 March 2018