Yaakov Agam was born in Rishon LeZion, Israel 1928. Agam's
initial art training was at the Bezalel School of Art in Jerusalem and
the Atelier d'Art Abstrait in Paris. He studied under Bauhaus color-theoretician
Johannes Itten and then rejected traditional static concepts of painting
and sculpture. His art is a fusion of static and 'moving' elements. He
is internationally recognized as one of the foremost leaders in the field
of kinetic art.
Agam's work is heavily influenced by religious thought and
mysticism which he learned from his father who was an orthodox rabbi and
kabbalist. Studies in time, space, movement, and relationships between
time and aesthetics result in art that is made up of complex combinations
of shapes and colors; a kinship of art, technology, and visual illusions
- visual fourth dimension, an abstraction of time.
In examining Agam's art (painting, sculpture, prints, and montages of materials) a spectator must become involved with the aesthetic and change it. To complete the aesthetic experience the work must be altered either by manual transformation or by physically passing by it and viewing it at various angles. In both cases, the viewer engages in active participation of the art's creation, by visually rearranging the component elements of the artwork.
Some of Agam's two dimensional art is linked with acoustic
effects and moving light. And, some has extended to applications in literature,
music, and theater. Physically and philosophically, Agam's non representational
abstraction, two dimensional or otherwise, is an intellectual and aesthetic
effort to integrate formalized art with ancient theories of mysticism
i.e., the kabala.
Agam's first one-person show was in Paris in 1953. In 1963,
at the Biennial of Sao Paulo, he received the first prize for creative
research. In 1980 the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York held a
retrospective exhibition of his achievements called "Beyond the Visible."
Agam's Double Metamorphosis II , is on permanent display at the
Modern Art Museum, in New York. More recent Agam works include the architectural
work, "Jacob's Ladder", which forms the ceiling of the National Convention
House in Jerusalem; a twenty-seven foot high mural for the passenger ship
"Shalom"; and in the district of La Defense in Paris, Agam created a monumental
musical fountain comprising of 66 vertical water jets shooting water up
For the Civic Center at Leverkusen, in West Germany and
for the Concert Hall at Leverkusen in West Germany, Agam created visual
space - environments that embrace and bring the viewer inside his art.
Some other space environments include: Environmental Salon, for
the Elysee Palace in Paris which is made up of wall murals, a kinetic
ceiling, a moving transparent colored door, and a kinetic tapestry on
the floor; Three Times Three Interplay at Julliard School of
Music, New York; The Hundred Gates at the garden of presidential
palace, Jerusalem; and Environmental Salon which is in permanent
exhibition at the Pompidou Museum in Paris. Commissions for other public
works include: Synagogue design and public works at Ben-Gurion University;
The Independence Day State of Israel commemorative postage stamp;
Homage a Mondrian Le Mondrian Hotel, Los Angeles California; Reflection
and Depth, Port Authority of New York; Light and moving sculpture
for Miami Florida sky scrapers; and a giant sculpture at the Lincoln Center
in New York.
Agam awards and world prize recognitions include: Artistic
Research, Sao Paulo, Biennial, Brazil; Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et
Lettres, Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy, Tel Aviv University; and the
Medal of the Council of Europe. Agam's work in permanent private and public
collections is exhibited in major museums throughout the world. Selected
serigraph suites such at the one displayed below have most recently been
exhibited at the Jewish Museum, New York.
The son of an orthodox rabbi, Agam's life and creative body of art reflects deep rooted understanding and expressions of religious thinking. Agam strives to demonstrate the principle of reality as a continuous "becoming" rather than as a circumscribed statement. The Judaic teaching that reality cannot be represented in a graven image, and that what is seen or observed consists of fragmented images which can never be grasped as a whole, even in very simple situations, led to the pursuit of creating art that cannot be completely seen at one time. Such an art image is intended to give the viewer the understanding that what is seen is only a partial revelation behind which lies unseen levels of reality. The three pieces displayed below are from his Fusion Suite, an edition of 200, printed in New York. Image size is 22" x 22 1/2" plus margins; the paper size is 27" x 27". Each serigraph is hand signed and numbered in pencil.
See Ebgi, Israel. Representational Figurative Art.
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