SOTO Paris and Beyond,
1950 – 1970


Jésus Soto, "Petite Ècriture Noire (Small Black Writing)," 1968. Paint on wood and metal with wire strings. 29 1/8" × 55 1/8" × 6 1/4". Collection Hèéne Soto. © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Courtesy Grey Gallery.

Above all, an interest in movement cuts across the mid-career abstractions of Venezuelan artist Jésus Soto (1923–2005). During the period of 1950s Paris captured in the show, Soto, one of the pioneers of kinetic art, produced alongside a cabal of artists including Jean Tinguely, Yves Klein, and Group Zero. A floating plexiglass screen echoes patterns of the painting behind it. The mechanics of assemblage—struts of long threaded screws with nuts fastening the glass to the canvas—are clear to see, yet their dizzying effects exceed the support. Soto serialized many varieties of geometric abstraction and kinetic form, combining the rigor and repetition of geometric lines and patterns with three-dimensional overlays that break the stasis. Side views are as important as frontal views and looking in the round. A group of constructions set painted surfaces against clumps of matted wire or wire spindles. What is striking is the feeling that Soto’s earlier work is unnervingly current. Shuttling between more immersive tableaux and dense masses, he created little machines as cerebral as they are bodily and as analog as they are virtual.


Cora Fisher