How Op Artists of the 1960s Created Their Hallucinatory Effects
There are holes where the steel rods can be rearranged.
Provenance: The Ruttenberg Art Collection
biographical info: The son of a rabbi, Agam can trace his ancestry back six generations to the founder of the Chabad movement in Judaism. in 1946, he entered the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. Studying with Mordecai Ardon, a former student at the Weimar Bauhaus. Agam has been associated h with “abstract” artists, “hard edge” artists, and artists such as Josef Albers and Max Bill. Others find in Agam’s work an indebtedness to the masters of the Bauhaus. Agam’s approach to art, being conceptual in nature, has been likened to Marcel Duchamp’s, who expressed the need to put art “at the service of the spirit.” And, because of Agam’s employment of motion in his art, he has been compared to Alexander Calder, the artist who put sculpture into motion. (Motion is not an end, but a means for Agam. Calder’s mobiles are structures that are fixed, revolving at the whim of the wind. In a work by Agam, the viewer must intervene.) Agam has also been classified as an “op art” artist because he excels in playing with our visual sensitivities. Agam went to Zurich to study with Johannes Itten at the Kunstgewerbeschule. There, he met Frank Lloyd Wright and Siegfried Giedion, whose ideas on the element of time in art and architecture impressed him. In 1955, Galerie Denise René hosted a major group exhibition in connection with Vasarely's painting experiments with movement. in addition to art by Vasarely, it included works by Yaacov Agam, Pol Bury, Soto and Jean Tinguely, among others. Most Americans were first introduced to Vasarely by the groundbreaking exhibition, "The Responsive Eye," at New York's Museum of Modern Art in 1965. Josef Albers, Richard Anuszkiewicz. The show confirmed Vasarely's international reputation as the father of Op art. Agam has sought to express his ideas in a non-static form of art. In his abstract Kinetic works, which range from paintings and graphics to sculptural installations and building facades. Agam continually seeks to explore new possibilities in form and color and to involve the viewer in all aspects of the artistic process. Thus, for the past 40 years, Yaacov Agam’s pioneering ideas have impacted developments in art, architecture, theatre, and public sculpture. Reflecting both his Israeli Jewish heritage and his involvement with leaders of the Bauhaus and Surrealist movements, Agam’s works have influenced generations of modern artists.
He has participated in shows all over the world and has had many one-man exhibitions, including the retrospective exhibition held at the Musee National d'art Moderne in Paris (1972), which was then shown at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Stadtische Kunsthalle in Dusseldorf, and Tel Aviv Museum. Another large-scale retrospective exhibit was held at the Guggenheim Museum in New York (1980). He had a large one-man exhibition at the Museum of Pontoise (1975), the Palm Spring Desert Museum, California, on an occasion of the inauguration of the museum (1976), the Museum of Art Birmingham, Alabama (1976), the Museo de Arte Modemo, Mexico (1976), the National Museum of Art, Cape Town, South Africa (1977). The retrospective exhibition was held at the lsetan Museum in Tokyo, Daimaru Museum in Osaka and Kawasaki City Museum in Japan (1989), and at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires Argentina (1996). He also held an exhibition "Selected Suites" at the Jewish Museum, New York (1975). Agam has also had many one-man shows in art galleries since 1953, including Denise Rene Gallery, Paris (1956), MarIborough-Gerson Gallery, New York (1966), Gallery Denise Rene, New York (1971)
Op art pioneer Yaacov Agam’s abstract artworks—which range from painting, sculpture, drawing, and ceramics, to stained glass and etching—typically incorporate light, sound, or viewer participation. The son of an orthodox rabbi, Agam first trained as an artist in Jerusalem, going on to combine formalist art with kabbalistic mysticism, and he is credited with introducing geometric abstraction to Israeli art. Agam’s best known series of works, comprised of painted strips that appear to shift and oscillate as viewers alter their points of view, would become known as “Agamographs”. He has also produced public commissions, including the world’s largest menorah, installed in New York City, and Star of Peace for Ben-Gurion university that fused the five-pointed star of Islam with the six-pointed Star of David. Agam met and was influenced by the Bauhaus artist and teacher Johannes Itten in Zurich, and also cites Wassily Kandinsky’s abstraction as an influence on his practice.
Israeli, b. 1928, Rishon LeZion, Israel, based in Paris, France