On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art announced the acquisition of Jesús Rafael Soto’s “Penetrable BBL Bleu.” The late Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela-born artist is considered a pioneer in optical and kinetic arts.
There are at least 30 “Penetrable” pieces in the artist’s repertoire. He began the series in 1966; “Bleu” was completed in 1999. One of the works, “yellow,” was previously featured at LACMA from 2011 to 2017. Ilona Katzew, curator and head of Latin American art acquisitions at the museum, was set on acquiring something for their permanent collection.
The various moving fixtures of nylon tubes in the collection have been exhibited in respected art spaces around the world including Galeries nationales du Grand Palais in Paris, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City and his namesake at home, The Jesús Soto Museum of Modern Art. Although the installations vary in size and color, the purpose at their core is the same—more literal in its interpretation when you consider this one’s hue.
“My concept of space is very different from that of the Renaissance, where man was in front of space, he was the viewer, the judge of that space,” Soto explained in a filmed interview. “[With] the Penetrables, I reveal that man…is part of space. And this is the sensation of those who enter them, and the feeling of joy and elation that you witness is similar to getting in the water and being completely liberated from gravity.”
LACMA is, of course, one of the many museums that are currently closed in Los Angeles. We are told that when and where on campus the piece will be set for viewing and engaging pleasures is still to be determined. LACMA is also currently going through a controversial extensive redesign.
News of this acquisition was well-received online. When an eager follower asked if visitors will be able to walk through the piece, they wrote “Since participation is incredibly important for these works, we will be waiting to display it until it’s safe for visitors to engage with it.”
Although it is an odd time, at best, to acquire such a fixture, this is good news and one that provides us with yet another thing to look forward to.