Yaakov Agam, Israeli (1928-)

Yaacov_AgamYaacov Agam, who is known for his “kinetic” artworks, involves movement and viewer participation. In 1953, Agam created his first “polyphonic paintings.” He used two or more different abstract designs on a zigzagged panel so that the viewer would see one image when the work was viewed from one angle and an entirely different image when the work was viewed from another angle.

Artist Biography: Yaacov Agam is one of the pioneers of the kinetic art movement and is the most recognized and sought after artist from this movement. Agam was born in 1928, the son of a Rabbi of Rishon LeZion (Israel), who devoted his life to studying and publishing literature on Jewish religious matters. Agam considers himself a visual continuation of his father’s quest for spirituality.

Agam studied at the Bezalel Academy of Art in Jerusalem, in Switzerland at the Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule and the University of Zurich. Arriving in Paris in 1951, Agam held his first one-man exhibition consisting of only kinetic, movable and transformable artwork, which was the first exhibition dedicated solely to this art form.

As a passionate experimenter in all artistic ventures, Agam struggled to master such problems as the 4th dimension, simultaneity and time in visual, plastic arts and has extended his unique thinking to the fields of literature, music and art theory.

Yaacov Agam has delivered lectures concerning his theories and experiments at many art schools, conventions, universities and museums. He was a guest lecturer at Harvard University in 1963, where he conducted a seminar, “Advanced Exploration in Visual Communication”. Agam has received international recognition such as: 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 the Grand Prize at the First International Biennale in Nagoya, Japan, ARTECH ‘89 (1989).

He has participated in shows all over the world and has had many one-man exhibitions. His visual education method and non-verbal educational system, meant to increase the creative and intellectual abilities of children by the usage of a visual alphabet, is implemented in pre-schools and kindergartens in Israel. In 1996, Agam was awarded the Jan Amos Comenius Medal from the UNESCO “for having devised a particularly effective method of visual teaching for children.”