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Soto: The Houston Penetrable

May 8, 2014 - Sep 1, 2014

Law Building, Mezzanine
1001 Bissonnet Map & Directions

About the exhibition

Jesús Rafael Soto’s signature Penetrables series is one of the great marvels of contemporary art. The Houston Penetrable—the Venezuelan artist’s final, and most ambitious work—is the only one Soto (1923–2005) designed as permanent or semipermanent, and one of the few he created as an indoor piece.
A vast, floating sea of plastic strands suspended from the ceiling, the Houston Penetrable is completed only by the viewer’s participation. Intended to be touched, handled, and waded through, the strands compose a floating yellow orb on a transparent background. The 24,000 PVC (polyvinyl chloride) tubes, individually hand-painted and tied, hang two stories high from the ceiling to the floor in the Museum's Cullinan Hall.
This immersive, kinetic environment was designed by Soto on commission from the Museum in 2004 and has taken almost a decade to produce. Architect Paolo Carrozzino and producer Walter Pellevoisin—in tandem with the Museum and Atelier Soto, Paris—oversaw a team of artisans and ironworkers in France and Houston to bring this monumental work to life.
Accompanying the installation is an exhibition nearby of eight exemplary pieces from the various phases and series of Soto’s career—including his Plexiglas boxes, and selections from his Agujas (Needles), Ambivalencias (Ambivalences), and Vibraciones (Vibrations) series. These works emphasize the artist’s specific contributions to Kinetic art, giving Museum visitors an understanding of the totality and complexity of ideas expressed by the Houston Penetrable.
Soto’s Penetrables have been installed around the world over the past 50 years, from the Museo Soto in Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela, in 1973; to the rotunda of the Guggenheim Museum in 1974; to MALBA - Fundación Costantini in Buenos Aires in 2003; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in 2011. The Penetrables have come to define the fully immersive art experience for generations of participants.

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Related Publications
Visit the Museum's Hirsch Library (713.639.7325) and MFAH Shop (713.639.7360) to learn more about Jesús Rafael Soto and his work.

► Share your experience on social media! Feel free to snap photos in the Houston Penetrable. Use #SotoSummer to post your Soto selfies and other Soto shots—you might even see your pic on the Museum’s social media and website!

► Show your #SotoSummer photo at Bosta Wine & Coffee, 1801 Binz in the Museum District, and you will receive $1 off the exclusive #SotoSummer ice cream created by Cloud 10 Creamery. Passion fruit and white chocolate give this flavor its signature Soto-inspired look.

Entrance to this installation is included with your Museum admission.
Museum members receive free general admission.


Soto: The Houston Penetrable is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in collaboration with the Atelier Soto, Paris.

Presenting Sponsor:
Mercantil Commercebank Logo


07 Nov Fri / 2014
MFAH Mixed Media