The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
In this essay, Italian critic Umbro Apollonio analyzes Jesús Rafael Soto’s vibrational work, particularly his production from the fifties. Apollonio starts out with a brief description of common, albeit distorted, perceptions of contemporary art. He asserts that those misconceptions are the reason that Soto’s work has still not received the recognition it deserves. The author mentions some of the concepts used by the Kinetic artist as well as the movements that have influenced his artistic thinking.
Art critic Umbro Apollonio (b. 1911), the author of this text, is struck by the fact that Jesús Rafael Soto (1923–2005) has been largely ignored by contemporary art historians, even though he has been active on the international art scene for over a decade and has a unique avant-garde style that has attracted imitators and “descendants.” The exhibition at The Kootz Gallery was the first major solo show of Soto’s work in the United States, and therefore was a milestone in his career. Indeed, 1965 was an important year for the career of the Venezuelan Kinetic artist for other reasons as well: a few months after the show at Kootz, Soto’s first solo show in Britain was held at Signals Gallery in London. The artist then began to receive international recognition as one of the most important exponents of the abstract Kinetic movement, a figure on a par with foreign artists like Victor Vasarely and Yaacov Agam and fellow Venezuelans, such as Alejandro Otero and Carlos Cruz-Diez. The choice of Umbro Apollonio—a critic widely known in the world of contemporary art—to write the catalogue text was significant; it provided a savvy means of substantiating the importance of Soto’s contribution to international art. At the time when this text was published, Apollonio was the curator of the historic archives of contemporary art of the Biennale di Venezia; Soto would participate in the biennial the following year. This text is a concise version of a text that would later be published in the tenth edition of Signals News Bulletin, I (November and December 1965), which was dedicated solely to Soto. Published on the occasion of a solo show of Soto’s work organized by Paul Keeler and Filipino artist David Medalla for Signals Gallery in London, that special edition of the bulletin featured texts by different art world figures. [For other texts on Soto’s work, see “La energía como realidad” by Roberto Guevara (ICAA digital archive doc. no. 1102332); “Soto: Estructuras cinéticas” (doc. no. 1059619); “En la Bienal de Córdoba: Definiciones del venezolano Jesús R. Soto. Aporte americano al arte universal” (doc. no. 772726); “Soto” (doc. no. 1080690); “Les pénétrables de Jesús Soto ou le recours à l'archaïque = Los penetrables de Jesus Rafael Soto o el recurso de lo arcaico” (doc. no. 805856); “Las Estructuras cinéticas de Jesús Soto” (doc. no. 850667); Guillermo Meneses, “Soto” (doc. no. 1080690); “Soto: Estructuras cinéticas” (doc. no. 1059619; Vladimir Tismaneanu, “La metafísica del espacio en la obra de Soto” (doc. no. 1101524); and an interview with Soto by Roberto Guevara, “La nueva lectura de la realidad: Una conversación con el maestro Jesús Soto” (doc. no. 1059731)].