Yaacov Agam

The artist's unique geographical creations have made him a leading pioneer of optic and kinetic art.

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Agam's great opportunity came in 1953, when he exhibited his new creations at the Galérie Craven, Paris, in his first one-man show. This exhibition, the first one-man exhibition ever held totally dedicated to "Art in Movement" and described by Agam as his "artistic birth," immediately made him a focus of public interest, and he soon became acknowledged as one of the pioneers of the new kinetic art and the greatest virtuoso of the group.

During the following 40 years, Agam created numerous works which can be seen in all parts of the world. Although his works show a great variety of artistic content, form, style, technique, and materials, all of them are marked by the same constant features, which are characteristic of his creative mentality.

The guiding principle of Agam's artistic works is multiplicity of form and content. In this, he is in sharp contrast to artists belonging to several contemporary currents, who may be grouped under the common denominator of "minimal art," and who tend to reduce to a minimum the structure, form, color scheme and texture of their work, in order to achieve a perceived perfect unity of its content. Agam, in contrast with such minimalist artists, is a maximalist, for he has always striven to make the content of each of his works richer in structure and content.

The wealth and complexity of artistic content in Agam's creations can be seen at their best in such polyphonic works as the "Salon Agam" in the Pompidou Centre in Paris (1971), where not only a single panel but the whole space of the Salon is continuously in fluid motion as the observer walks through it.

The artistic content of a work by Agam is thus not that of a single composition but the sum total of innumerable forms and compositions that result from its endless transformation. In other words: Transformation and multiplicity go hand in hand. This is why the artist has also been attracted to polyphonic music. He has even composed his own experimental polyphonic music, which he called "Musical Transforms" (1962).

Between 1959-1962, Agam also experimented in the application of multiplicity to a particular kind of theater equipped with several stages upon which different scenes of the same play took place simultaneously. In 1958, Agam even began experimenting with a new kind of "simultaneous writing," which dissociates speech from reading, and in which several verbal expressions are written one above the other so that they may be grasped at the same time. He demonstrated some of these ideas in a didactic illustrated book in Hebrew, published in Israel in 1989: Agmilim ("Agamwords"). …

Agam's works from the 1970s onwards sometimes include, in addition to abstract geometric compositions, elements which carry symbolic meaning--like the combined elements of fire, water, and sound in his fountain in the Zena-Dizengoff Square in the center of Tel Aviv (1986). Some of his works even include clear iconographic messages, such as his holographic medallion (1985), which has a combination of the symbols of the three monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

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Avraham Ronen is an Emeritus Professor of the History of Art at Tel Aviv University.