Crème de la Kinetic: 6 Game-Changing Artworks By Yaacov Agam

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Born in Israel in 1928, Yaacov Agam is a world-renowned artist who pioneered the kinetic art movement in the 1950s and 60s and continues to make large-scale, optical artwork in public installations around the world. His work employs a variety a media – there’s no limit to color or material as Agam has a unique way of transforming surfaces into amazing two and three-dimensional creations. He also invented a lenticular print now known as an Agamograph, which uses a lenticular printing process to change the portrayal of an image based on the angle of viewing.

He has exhibited at some of the most famous museums, including the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. The artist currently lives in Paris, France.

Here are 6 of our favorite public works by the optical master:

1. Fire and Water Fountain, Dizengoff Square, Tel Aviv, 1986

Fire and Water Fountain

This fountain is one of Agam’s most famous works. It sits in a plaza suspended above the road and is a computerized sculpture that rotates, plays music, and shoots water that resembles a rising flame. The display lasts for a full twenty minutes before it loops to repeat the spectacle. The five painted, concentric steel rings turn to produce optical effects through color and light. Talk about dramatic!


2. Fountains, La Défense, Paris, 1975


Another show stopping work by Agam, the fountains in the La Défense district of Paris are a colorful respite from the nearby modernist concrete buildings. Surfaced in vibrant mosaic patterns, the fountains contain over seventy jets that shoot the water fourteen meters in the air. The attention to detail through line and shape shows Agam’s incredible understanding of polymorphic design. He not only treats the fountain’s flat section, but also spills the design down the stepped sides.


3. Complex Vision, The Callahan Eye Foundation Hospital, Birmingham, Alabama, 1969

Complex Vision

This work was recently under renovation and is one of the earliest examples of Agam’s kinetic art. It features sixty-nine panels and four designs, which reveal themselves as you walk past the site. Fun fact: this mural was the cover design of the 1977 Birmingham telephone book. Makes us miss the landline!


4. Peaceful Communication with the World, the World Games, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, 2009

Peaceful Communication with the World

Comprised of nine, thirty-two-foot pillars, this installation was erected in honor of the 2009 World Games in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. In total, the pillars have fifty-four sides, which Agam uses to create various optical effects using over one hundred and eighty colors to create a plethora of patterns and shapes. The viewer is expected to experience the art as a whole environment versus through piece by piece study. Agam hopes that children who experience the work will return as adults and perceive a different environment based on their change in height.


5. Dan Hotel, Tel Aviv, 1986

Dan Hotel

Opened in 1953, the Dan Hotel is repeatedly ranked as one of the most luxurious hotels in the world, hosting Presidents, Prime Ministers, and Ambassadors for generations. In 1986, Agam finished a technicolor mural on the façade that changes from warm to cool tones as you walk the length of it. It is one of Agam’s largest works and affords a spectacular view from the seafront harbour.


6. The Holocaust Memorial of the City of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA, 2003

Holocaust Memorial New Orleans 1

Conceived as an artistic expression of prayer and culture, this sculpture was commissioned in memory of the six million Jews killed during the Holocaust (1933-1945). Unlike other, more somber memorials dedicated to the same tribute, Agam employs his signature use of bold color to infuse hope and optimism into the sculpture. The work is comprised of nine panels and as you move around, the patterns reveal themselves into ten unique designs. This includes a menorah and the Star of David, two cultural signifiers of the Jewish religion.

Featured Image Source: Haaretz