1923 Ciudad Bolivar
The Venezuelan artist Jésus Rafael Soto was born on June 5, 1923 in Ciudad Bolivar. He undertook his studies from 1942–47 at the Academy for the Fine Arts in Caracas and subsequently headed the art school in Maracaibo until 1950. Beginning in 1950, Jésus Rafael Soto lived and worked in Paris. Since the 1960s, the artist has been one of the most significant representatives of kinetic art and optical art.
In 1957, he built a kinetic structure for the garden of the School of Architecture at the University of Caracas. For the 1958 World Exhibition in Brussels, he created two monumental kinetic walls and a sculpture for the Venezuelan Pavilion. Soto also produced a kinetic sculpture for the 1967 World Exhibition in Montreal for the Venezuelan Pavilion at the request of architect Carlos Raúl Villanueva (1900–75).
In addition, he also created many films and environments at this time. On August 25, 1973 the Museo de Arte Moderno Jesús Soto opened in Soto‘s home town of Ciudad Bolivar. The opening exhibition showed the works of Hans Arp (1886–1966), Gianni Colombo (1937–93), Sonia Delaunay-Terk (1885–1979), Jean Dewasne (1921–99), Juro Kubicek (1906– 0), François Morellet (*1926), Carmelo Sobrino (*1948), and Günther Uecker (*1930).
In addition to many group exhibitions (Biennial Sao Paulo 1963, Biennial Venice 1964 and 1966), Soto’s works have seen displayed at locations like the Bern Art Gallery in 1968, Palacio de Velazquez in Madrid in 1988, and at the Bottrop Square in 1990.
Jésus Rafael Soto retrospectives took place in 1969 in Paris (Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville), 1974 in New York (Guggenheim Museum), and 1985 in Miami (Center of the Fine Arts). The latter showed 150 works by the artist from the years 1950 –85.
In the second half of his life, Soto assumed various teaching posts such as at the Universidad de Oriente in Venezuela (1978), the Instituto Pedagógico de Caracas (1984), and the Universidad Nacional Experimental de Guayana (starting in 1994).
Jésus Rafael Soto died on February 14, 2005 in Paris.