Yaacov Agam is one of the pioneer creators of the kinetic movement in art as well as its most outstanding contemporary representative. A son of a rabbi, Agam considers himself a continuation of his fathers quest for spirituality and Jewish religion.
Agam studied at the Bezalel Academy of Art in Jerusalem, Israel and in Switzerland at the Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule and the Zurich University. After arriving to Paris in 1951, Agam’s first one man exhibition was met with great sucess. This exhibition consisted totally of kinetic, movable and transformable paintings, making it the first one-man show in the history of art consisting exclusively of kinetic art. A passionate experimenter, Agam deals with such problems as the 4th dimension, simultaneity and time in the visual, plastic arts. With time he has extended his experiments to apply to the fields of literature, music and art theory. His works deal with the notion of expressing reality in a way that is neither limited or static.
Agam strives to demonstrate the principle of reality as a continuous “becoming” rather than static “graven image.” His paintings “Double Metamorphosis 11” in the Museum of Modern Art in New York and “Transparent Rhythms 11 “in the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C are the best example of his polymorphic painting.
Agam’s works are placed in many public places internationally. His work expresses new concepts in monumental works as seen in “Jacob’s Ladder” which forms the ceiling of the National Convention House in Jerusalem. He created a “floating museum”, for the Carnival Cruise Line’s luxury cruise ship “Celebration” (1987). His fire-water fountain in Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv (1986) streams water, fire, and music -elements of flux and life which cannot be static – as its colored elements rotate in this multidimensional monumental work.
For the Elysee Palace in Paris, with the request of President Georges Pompidou Agam created in 1972 a whole environmental of the Salon with the walls covered with polymorphic murals of changing images a kinetic ceiling, moving transparent colored doors and a kinetic carpet on which he placed a sculpture. It embraces viewers: they are no longer looking at a framed, fixed scene, but rather arc moving within an artistic space which changes constantly according to their shifting position and point of view. Similar attempt was made for the concert hall, Forum Leverkusen in Germany in 1970.
Agam environmental sculptures, includ “Hundred Gates” in the garden of the residence of the President of Israel in Jerusalem, “3 x 3 Interplay” installed at the Julliard School of Music at the Lincoln Center and “Wings of the Heart” at J. F. Kennedy airport in New York. In 1984 he made a sculpture “Beating Heart” for the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. In 1988 he created a transparent Thorah ark for the Hebrew Union College in New York. In 1991 he created a sculpture ‘Tree of Life” and a room for meditation at the Haidrah Yeshiva at the Wailing Wall Plaza in Jerusalem.
He also made 14 stained glass windows for the Holocaust study center of Emunah Women of America building in Jerusalem. In the new district of La Defense in Paris, Agam created a monumental musical fountain (1977), with its pool made of polymorphic mosaic surface. It is comprised of 66 vertical water jets shooting water up to 14 meters; the fountain was further enhanced with the addition of five new triple tulip jets in 1991. Another fire-water fountain was inaugurated in 1991 at the Tampa Convention Center in Florida.
Other monumental works, include the painting of the entire building facade of Mondrian Hotel in Los Angeles (1984) and 36-poor Villa Regina building in Florida (1983) He made a large mural for Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York, commission gained through an international competition, in 1984. His kinetic sculpture “Star of Peace” was presented as the Ben-Gurion Award for an Outstanding Contribution to Understanding Between the Peoples of the Middle East to President Anwar Sadat, Prime Minister Menachem Begin and President Jimmy Carter in 1979. Agam has delivered lectures concerning his theories and experiments at many art schools, conventions, universities and museums, and during the year of 1968 he was a guest-lecturer at Harvard University, where he conducted a seminar and course “Advanced Exploration in Visual Communication.”
Agam’s International recognition has been widespread. Prizes include: Prize for Artistic Research at the Sao Paolo Biennale (1963), Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres (1974), Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy, Tel Aviv University (1975), Medal of the Council of Europe (1977), Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres (1985), Sandberg Prize from the Israel Museum, Jerusalem (1985), Palette d’Or at the International Festival at Cagnes-surMer (1985), and most recently the Grand Prize at the First International Biennale in Nagoya, Japan, ARTECH ’89 (1989).
Agam has participated in shows all over the world ranging from the Musee National d’art Modeme in Paris (1972) to the Guggenheim Museum in New York (1980). Since 1953n he has also had many one-man shows in art galleries, including Denise Rene Gallery, Paris (1956), MarIborough-Gerson Gallery, New York (1966), Gallery Denise Rene, New York (1971) and a series of one-man exhibits all over the United States at the Circle Fine Art Galleries. His visual education method and non-verbal educational system, meant to increase the creative and intellectual abilities of the children by the usage of visual alphabet as a mother tongue, is implemented in pre-schools and kindergartens in Israel. In 1996, Agam was awarded the Jan Amos Comenius Medal 1996 from the UNESCO “for having devised a particularly effective method of visual teaching for children.” His work can be found at Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and exhibits include Yaacov Agam: 51 Steps, An Upward Exhibition,
Artrust Yaacov Agam 2017, Agam Museum, Beyond the Invisible, National Museum of Art, Taiwan