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Biography

FRANCISCO SOBRINO
[1932, Spain - 2014, France]

Born into a working-class family in Guadalajara, Spain, Francisco Sobrino began his studies of painting and sculpture at the Escuela de Artes y Oficios de Madrid from 1946 to 1948. He moved to Argentina in 1949 and studied at the Escuela de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires from 1950 to 1957. During this period, he met many of the artists and writers involved with the Asociación Arte Concreto-Invención (AACI), and he began working in geometric abstraction. At the Escuela de Bellas Artes, he also met Hugo Demarco, Julio Le Parc, and Horacio Garcia Rossi. In 1959, Sobrino moved to Paris with Le Parc, where they co-founded the Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel (GRAV). In 1960, Sobrino began making reliefs and then three-dimensional constructions from transparent, tinted acrylic plastic, Plexiglas®. These works were the first of his explorations of juxtaposition and superimposition between the viewer and the work of art. In 1965, his work was included in the exhibition The Responsive Eye at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York City, New York, USA.

Light and movement were of special interest to the artists of GRAV, but they were careful to avoid using these as ends in themselves. Instead, light and movement were ways of modifying a particular environment and creating an unexpected situation, to which audience members could respond. The group hoped that such interactive works might lead to a social movement based on collective experience and viewer participation. After numerous group exhibitions throughout Europe, GRAV disbanded in 1968.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Sobrino continued his research into light, using solar energy with the help of solar panels. He also developed his work with modular units, which allowed the viewer to change the sculpture’s form. Plexiglas® continued to be a preferred material for him. In 1971, he worked on sets and costumes for the ballet Requiem, by György Ligeti, performed at the Theatre contemporain de Grenoble. In 1979, he completed his architectural designs for Banco Exterior de España in Guadalajara, Spain. “The first kinetic architecture in the world,” the Kinetic Bank was designed in black and white, with projections on the floors, staircases, and walls; it was later demolished.

Until his death in 2014, Sobrino continued his consistent creative exploration of the relationships between science and art through kinetic, optical, and geometric projects. In 2008, work on the Museo Francisco Sobrino was begun in Guadalajara, Spain. Sobrino’s work has been shown extensively in international museums and collections, and he has completed important architectural commissions in Europe and in Latin America.

Sobrino's work was shown in innumerable exhibitions, among them: Francisco Sobrino, Espace de l'Art Concret (EAC), Centre d’art contemporain, Mouans-Sartoux, France (2019); Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel, Galerie Denise René, Paris, France (1961); Dynamo: Un siècle de lumière et de mouvement dans l’art 1913-2013, Grand Palais, Paris (2013); GRAV, Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel 1960-1968: stratégies de participation, MAGASIN - Centre National d'Art Contemporain (CNAC), Grenoble, France (1998); La Biennale Paris, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France (1963); Abstraction/figuration, oeuvres du Centre national des arts plastiques (Cnap), Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes, France (2014); Luz y movimiento. La vanguardia cinética en París 1950-1975, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Alicante (MACA), Spain (2019); Intercambio global. Abstracción geométrica desde 1950,Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Buenos Aires (MACBA), Argentina (2012); La Inestabilidad, GRAV, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina (1963); North Looks South: Building the Latin American Art Collection, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), Texas, USA (2009); Color into Light, Connecting Currents: Contemporary Art at the Fine Arts Museum Houston in the inaugural installation of the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), Texas, USA (2020); The Responsive Eye. MoMA, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York City, New York, USA (1965); and Experiments in Visual Kineticism, The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia (2006).

Sobrino’s works are represented in several major collections including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, USA; Beacon Collection, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Centre national des arts plastiques (Cnap), Paris, France; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC, USA; Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Cholet, France; Musée National d'Art Moderne - Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Bilbao, Spain; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Alicante (MACA), Spain; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Madrid, Spain; El Museo de Escultura al Aire Libre de La Castellana, Madrid, Spain; Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Museo Tamayo, Mexico City, Mexico; Museu d'Art Contemporani, Vicente Aguilera Cerni (MACVAC), Vilafamés, Spain; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), Massachusetts, USA; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), Texas, USA; Muzeon Tel Aviv Leomanut, Israel; Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy; Peter Stuyvesant Foundation, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; and Tate Modern, London, England, UK.

Selected Exhibitions

2022
Relaciones, Museo Francisco Sobrino, Guadalajara, Spain
Francisco Sobrino, Estructura Modular e Luz, Dan Galeria, São Paulo, Brazil
Francisco Sobrino en el Jardín de Esculturas y en el Claustro del Centro de Arte Moderno y Contemporáneo de Castilla-La Mancha, Collección Roberto Polo, Toledo, Spain

2021
A view from Zagreb: Op Art and Kinetic Art, Tate Modern, London, UK

2020
Color into Light, Connecting Currents: Contemporary Art at the Fine Arts Museum Houston in the inaugural installation of the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, (MFAH), Houston, TX, USA
The Grid in Modern Latin American Art, Sicardi | Ayers | Bacino, Houston, TX, USA
Dialogues: Cruz Diez, Sobrino, Soto, Sicardi | Ayers | Bacino, Houston, TX, USA
Entre les Lignes, Galerie Wagner, Paris, France

2019
Francisco Sobrino, Espace de l'Art Concret, Mouans-Sartoux, France
Francisco Sobrino: TRANSFORMATION INSTABLE, Galerie Mitterand, Paris, France
Luz y movimiento. La vanguardia cinética en París 1950-1975, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Alicante (MACA), Alicante, Spain

2017
Francisco Sobrino, Modus Operandi, Galerie Mitterrand, Paris, France

2016
Joël Stein And The Grav, Galerie Xippas France, Paris, France
Transparence3, Galerie Denise René - Rive Gauche, Paris, France
Movimientos, Galerie Mitterrand, Paris, France
Heterotopias, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Alicante (MACA), Alicante, Spain
Abstracción. Del Grupo Pórtico Al Centro De Cálculo. 1948-1968, Galerìa Guillermo de Osma, Madrid, Spain
Sculpture/ Vision, Sicardi Gallery, Houston, TX, USA

2015
Francisco Sobrino, Museo Francisco Sobrino, Guadalajara, Spain
Abstracción. Del Grupo Pórtico Al Centro De Cálculo. 1948-1968, Museo Francisco Sobrino, Guadalajara, Spain
Grav en acción , Museo Francisco Sobrino, Guadalajara, Spain
Un tournant | A turning point, Sicardi | Ayres | BacinoGallery, Houston, TX, USA
Julien Prévieux And Francisco Sobrino, Jousse Entreprise, Paris, France
Rendezvous der Länder, Neuhängung der Sammlung Peter C. Ruppert, Konkrete Kunst in Europa nach 1945, Museum im Kulturspeicher, Würzburg

2014
Couleur Et Transparence, Galerie Nery Marino, Paris, France
move, move! ...., Galerie Zaloudek, Prague
Arte Cinetica, Museo di Santa Giulia, Brescia
La Percezione Creativa a Nordest, Collezionare Arte Optical e Programmata - Palazzo Tedesco, Vittorio Veneto, TV
La percezione creativa a Nordest, Palazzo Todesco, Vittorio Veneto, TV
Abstraction/figuration, oeuvres du Centre national des arts plastqiues, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes, Rennes
Turn Me On: European and Latin American Kinetic Art 1948-1979, Christie's, London, London
Constructing the Space, Piero Atchugarry Gallery, Pueblo Garzón

2013
Francisco Sobrino, Jousse Entreprise, Paris, France
Foundation Collection 2013, The Collection of the Pablo Atchugarry Foundation, Maldonado
The System of Objects, Deste Foundation, Athens, Greece
Dynamo Un Siecle De Lumiere Et De Mouvement Dans L’art 1913-2013, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris

2012
Intercambio global. Abstracción geométrica desde 1950, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Buenos Aires (MACBA), Buenos Aires
Tomorrow was already here, Museo Tamayo, Mexico City
European Art: 1949-1979 - Marion R. Taylor: Paintings, 1966–2001, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice

2007
Les œuvres parlent d’elles-mêmes…, Galerie Lélia Mordoch, Paris, France

2003
Sobrino, Noir Et Blanc, Galerie Lélia Mordoch, Paris

2000
Francisco Sobrino, Noir & Blanc, Galerie Lélia Mordoch, Paris, France

Selected Public Collections

Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, NY, USA

Beacon Collection, Boston, MA, USA

Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France

Centre National d’Art Plastique, Paris, France

Colección del Parlamento Provincial, Guadalajara, Spain

Fondazione Peggy Guggenheim, Venice, Italy

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., USA

Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Cholet, France

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Bilbao, Spain

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Madrid, Spain

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Villafanes, Spain

Museo de Arte Moderno, Alicante, Spain

Museo de Arte Moderno - Fundación Jesús Soto, Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela

Museo de la Escultura Monumental al Aire Libre, Madrid, Spain

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, USA

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), Houston, TX, USA

Peter Stuyvesant Foundation, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Tate Gallery, London, Great Britain

Tel Aviv Museum, Israel