YAACOV AGAM, Untitled, c 1970-80


Color silkscreen, 17 1/2 x 17 1/2 inches


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Yaacov Agam (Israeli 1928-) was born the son of a rabbi and kabbalist, Yehoshua Gibstein. He studied at the Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem under Mordecai Ardon in 1946, moved to Zurich and then Paris, and studied at the Atelier d’art abstrait and at the Académie de la grande chaumière. While in Zurich, he met and was influenced by artist and teacher Johannes Itten, who was propagating Bauhaus ideas; he also found inspiration in Vasily Kandinsky’s defense of abstraction, On the Spiritual in Art: And Painting in Particular, 1911.   He exhibited, along with other pioneers of Kinetic art including Alexander Calder and Jean Tinguely, at the Le mouvement (Movement) exhibition at the Galerie Denise René in 1955.

In 1979, Agam was asked to make a work of art to commemorate the peacemaking efforts between Anwar el-Sādāt and Prime Minister Menachem Begin at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba, Israel. He created the Star of Peace, a Kinetic sculpture that appeared from one direction to be the five-pointed star of Islam, from another, the six-pointed Star of David, and from a third, a new star formed from their fusion. Other public projects include a 1987 memorial at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem for the victims of the Holocaust, and the world’s largest menorah: a 32-foot, 4,000-pound structure at Fifth Avenue and 59th street in Manhattan, designed in 1977 and based on the original menorah in Jerusalem’s Holy Temple.

Agam has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions at institutions including the Musée national d’art moderne, Paris (1972); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1973); Städtische Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf (1973); Tel Aviv Museum (1973); Jewish Museum, New York (1975); Palm Springs Desert Museum, California (1976); Museo de arte moderno, Mexico City (1976); National Museum of Art, Cape Town, South Africa (1977); Guggenheim Museum (1980); and Isetan Museum, Tokyo (1989). In 1996, UNESCO awarded Agam the Jan Amos Comenius Medal for the “Agam Method” for the nonverbal visual education of young children. Agam lives and works in Paris.