A bit of whimsy has entered the chat at The Hispanic Society Museum & Library as they’re displaying an interactive sculpture by artist Jesús Rafael Soto that’s beckoning New Yorkers to stroll on through!
This summer, New Yorkers can find Soto’s Penetrable at the museum’s Upper Terrace in celebration of the 100-year anniversary of the artist’s birth.
Soto, a visionary artist from Venezuela, played a pivotal role in the development of Kinetic Art in Paris during the 1950s and 1960s, as well as in the Geometric Abstraction movement in Venezuela. His work, which often involves immersive aspects, works to blur the boundaries between art and the audience.
Soto’s iconic Penetrables are sculptures composed of vertical cascading tubes hanging in space, into which spectators are invited to enter and roam through.
Soto created the first iteration of the series in 1967, when he combined metal rods and nylon strands to seemingly hang in space. His website reads:
The viewer becomes an integral part of the work. Heretofore, the viewer was in the position of an external observer of reality. Today, the notion that there is mankind on one side and the world on the other has been superseded. We are not observers but constituent parts of a reality that we know to be teeming with living forces, many of them invisible. We exist in the world like fish in water: not detached from matter-energy; INSIDE, not IN FRONT OF; no longer viewers, but participants.
The sculpture is meticulously constructed from iron, aluminum, and yellow plastic tubes arranged within a steel grid.
According to Untapped, guests are absorbed into the piece as they wander through the cascading tubes, and are made to feel as if the boundary between the sculpture and themselves is blurred. From an outsider’s perspective, those wandering through the sculpture become part of the art.
The Hispanic Society Museum & Library (HSM&L) is NYC’s primary institution dedicated to the preservation, study, understanding, exhibition, and enjoyment of art and cultures of Portuguese and Spanish-speaking countries and communities. Penetrable was given to museum as a long-term loan from the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros (CPPC).
Before finding its way to HSM&L, the sculpture embarked on a two decade journey of loans at prominent institutions across the Americas including:
- The Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (2003)
- The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (2004)
- Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City (2006)
- Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin (2007)
- Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2011‒ 2017)
- Olana State Historic Site in Hudson, New York (2017‒ 2018)
Penetrable was installed at HSM&L’s Upper Terrace, located in Upper Manhattan on the west side of Broadway between 155th and 156th Streets, in June of this year. This marks the first time a sculpture from Soto’s Penetrables series is being showcased outdoors to be experienced by NYC’s diverse audiences.
Penetrable is open to the public for free and will be on view at the Hispanic Society Museum & Library until further notice.