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Jesús Rafael Soto (Venezuelan, 1923-2005)

Art

Also known as:  Soto, J. R.; Soto, Jésus Rafael; Soto, Jesus Raphael; Soto, Jesús

Birth Place: Ciudad Bolívar (Bolívar, Venezuela)

Biography:

Who is painter and installation artist Jesus Soto?

Jesus Soto was a Venezuelan artist who is best known for his contributions to the Kinetic and Op Art painting movements. While Soto is one of Venezuela’s best-known artists, he was truly a student of the world. He became interested in Paul Klee and Piet Mondrian’s work while in Paris during his early 20s. Soto’s work has become extremely influential, both in his native country and abroad. His experiments with the way colors are perceived were instrumental in the development of the Op Art Movement. His impact on a generation of artists can’t be understated.

Jesus Soto was so popular that in 1974, the Jesus Soto Museum of Modern Art opened in Bolivia. This museum was designed to optimize Soto’s Op Art experiments, and as such many of the exhibits are able to be wired with electricity so that they can move. Soto’s work has been featured in countless museums and galleries including The Universal Exhibition in Seville, Spain, The Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney, and the Guggenheim.

What kind of art does Jesus Soto make?

Jesus Soto is best known for his environmental integrations or “penetrables”. These large-scale pieces play with spatial effects and colors, usually using multiple plexiglass sheets. These sheets are often painted with straight or curved drawings and can change depending on where the viewer stands within the space. This was revolutionary in how it encouraged spectator participation. Soto’s environmental incorporations helped to create the famed “Yellow Manifest” a publication that explained how kinetic art and research were important to both modern art and science. As Soto’s career progressed, he began to explore other aspects of aesthetics, including creating a new visual order, and his work with space plenitude. These works are almost overwhelming in their ability to create new sensations to the viewer. Soto was a true pioneer, of that there is no question.

How did painter Jesus Soto get started?

Jesus Soto was born in 1924 in Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela. His father was a violin player. While this led the young Soto to the arts, it also produced a financial strain for the family. As such, Soto was encouraged to bring in money at an early age. He started this work at 16 by recreating famous pieces of art, then followed this by painting posters for the movie theaters of his hometown. In 1942 he received a scholarship to attend the Plastic and Applied Arts School in Caracas. This was instrumental to Soto’s fledgling career. The director of the school, Antonio Edmundo Monsanto took a special interest in the young artist, introducing him to the works of many noted Cubists. He received a government grant to travel to Paris in 1950, where he discovered the works of Klee and Mondrian -- this spurred Soto to explore the Op Art aspects of his paintings and sculptures.

How much are Jesus Soto pieces worth?

Jesus Soto’s art can sell for as little as $4,000 to as much as $1,000,000 for major work. The highest price fetched for a Jesus Soto piece at auction is $1,082,500 for the mixed-media piece La Scie a Metaux (The Hacksaw) (1960) which sold on November 19th 2012. Most of Soto’s pieces are brilliant, featuring textured, layered art that can entrance even the most casual art fan. As such, Soto’s work virtually always performs brilliantly at auction. Savvy collectors would be wise to take note if one of his pieces becomes available.

Where to buy Jesus Soto art for sale?

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How to value Jesus Soto art?

The best way to value art is to compare past auction prices for similar works. View past sale prices below. When you’re ready to sell, contact Heritage Auctions to request an auction estimate of the likely selling price at auction. If you need a formal written appraisal for estate planning or insurance, please contact our Appraisal Services department.


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