Renowned abstract artist Jesús Rafael Soto was a pioneer—and ultimately lifelong practitioner—of the Op and kinetic art movements, which prioritized both optical illusion and physical dynamism. After training in Caracas, Soto moved to Paris in 1950, where he participated in the seminal 1955 group exhibition Le Mouvement at Galerie Denise René, considered a crucial launching point for postwar experimentation with interactivity and perceptual experience. Believing that perception involves the entire body and not just the mind, Soto and his peers sought to revise the fundamentals of how an audience engages with art.
In 1967 Soto created his first so-called pénétrable, a kind of luminous environmental sculpture that not only invites but in fact demands audience participation. One of only about 30 ever produced by the artist, this iconic installation is on display for the first time since 1986. An early example of Soto’s signature environments, Pénétrable de Chicago presents thousands of transparent filaments hanging from the ceiling in a rectangular formation. Visitors are thus invited to enter an immersive forest of plastic tubes that shimmer and shift in response to every movement. “We are in the world like fish in water,” Soto once explained. In keeping with such a metaphor, his multisensory pénétrables render our passage through space fully palpable.
Sponsors The restoration and exhibition of Pénétrable de Chicago were made possible through the generous support of the Community Associates of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Jesús Rafael Soto. Pénétrable de Chicago, 1971. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Randall Shapiro.
1 day 8 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW OPEN—Abstract Experiments: Latin American Art on Paper after 1950
During the mid-20th century, Latin American artists were active in the evolving international discourse on modernity, at a time of industrial expansion and political transformation in South America.
Abstract Experiments provides an illuminating complement to Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium and reflects the Art Institute’s recent efforts to expand its holdings of Latin American painting, sculpture, and works on paper.
2 days 2 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW OPEN—Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium
The Art Institute presents the first U.S. retrospective of this groundbreaking Brazilian artist. A relentless innovator always pushing the boundaries of art, Oiticica is arguably the most influential Latin American artist of the post–World War II period and is recognized for inspiring Tropicália, a powerful movement that influenced art across media in Brazil.
In addition to viewing his early works on paper, visitors are invited to take off their shoes and walk through immersive sand-filled installations, view Amazonian parrots, and try on wearable objects designed by the artist.
2 days 4 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago Whitney will be taking over our Instagram for the next 24 hours. Follow along to see posts from Max and Julien’s visit to the museum.