Jesús Rafael Soto was a Venezuelan sculptor and painter whose optical art blurred the lines between reality and illusion. He received a scholarship to attend the Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Artes Aplicadas in Caracas from 1942 to 1947 where he met fellow students Carlos Cruz-Diez and Omar Carreño. He then served as the director of the Escuela de Bellas Artes in Maracaibo, Venezuela until 1950. The same year he moved to Paris and became associated with the New Realists, later his work was exhibited at the Galerie Denise René in the groundbreaking exhibition “Le Mouvement” alongside works by kinetic artists including Yaacov Agam, Alexander Calder, Marcel Duchamp, Jean Tinguely, and Victor Vasarely.
A leader in optical art, Soto’s geometric works interact with the viewer and environment. He often created large-scale installations and public works including commissions for the hall of the UNESCO building in Paris and the Forum of the Centre Pompidou in Paris. In the late 1960s, he experimented with industrial and synthetic materials such as nylon and steel to create his works. He founded the Jesús Soto Museum of Modern Art in his hometown of Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela in 1973 with the mission to promote the appreciation of arts and culture. Soto’s works are included in prestigious collections around the world including the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Tate Gallery in London, and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Jesús Rafael Soto died in Paris in 2005.