About The Artist
Often called the father of kinetic art, Israeli multimedia artist Yaacov Agam's works - which span the scope of sculpture, screen printing, painting, ceramics, etchings, and drawings, as well as stained glass - typically enlist viewer participation and often incorporate elements of light and sound. His vibrant, dynamic pieces demonstrate an ongoing preoccupation with the slippery intersections between time and movement, teasing out allusions to an elusive fourth dimension where time is both regulated and made visible. "For twenty years, I tried, and finally I understood, the image must be something that becomes, not something that is," he recounted in 1971.
Agam's best-known works are comprised of a series of lenticular painted panels whose images are devised to shift as viewers change their position in relation to the piece. "My intention was to create a work of art which would transcend the visible, which cannot be perceived except in stages, with the understanding that it is a partial revelation and not the perpetuation of the existing," he once explained. As is the case with the artist's oeuvre as a whole, these works are intended to remain in a condition of perpetual flux, suspended in an ongoing state of becoming in order to, as Agam himself puts it, "show what can be seen within the limits of possibility which exists in the midst of coming into being."
Agam first received formal artistic training in Jerusalem at the Bezalel Academy under Mordecai Ardon, who is credited with first introducing geometric abstraction to that corner of the world. After completing his studies in Jerusalem he moved to Zurich, where he studied under acclaimed color theorist Johannes Itten, who was then cultivating a practice that built on Bauhaus principles. After his tenure in Zurich, Agam continued his studies at the Atelier d'art abstrait and the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris, where he lives and works to this day. In 1964, Agam laid out his artistic credo. In it he detailed how he came to start producing the kinetic and optical art for which he is now so widely known. "My intention was to create a work of art which would transcend the visible, which cannot be perceived except in stages, with the understanding that it is a partial revelation and not the perpetuation of the existing," he explained. The son of an orthodox rabbi and kabbalist, Agam's formalist artworks often draws on elements of kabbalistic mysticism and sometimes incorporate aspects of esoteric philosophies derived from other religions. Melding formalism and mysticism, Agam has continually countered the label of abstraction connected to his work. "Abstract art shows a situation on a canvas. I show a state of being which does not exist, the imperceptible absence of an image. The infinity of possibilities, opposing the chance of a presence, a possibility."