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[1932-2014, Spain-France]

“…using geometrical forms enabled me to understand what I was doing, it helped me to tell things in a clear language. I wanted to create a kind of alphabet of elementary and impersonal forms, with which I could build sentences. I still have the same desire: to be clear.”

Born to a working class family in Guadalajara, Spain, Francisco Sobrino began his studies of painting and sculpture at the School of Arts and Crafts in Madrid, between 1946 and 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 Arte Concreto-Invención group, 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. 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 Responsive Eye exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York.

In their 1966 manifesto, GRAV’s members write, “We are particularly interested in the proliferation of works which permit a variety of situations, whether they engender a strong visual excitement, or demand a move on the part of the spectator, or contain in themselves a principle of transformation, or whether they call for active participation from the spectator.” 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 around collective experience and viewer participation. After numerous group exhibitions throughout Europe, GRAV separated 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 allow the viewer to change the sculpture’s form. He continued using Plexiglas, noting, “The use of Plexiglas gives birth to manifold plays of light having to do with transparency and reflects like polished steel, which is an excellent mirror, a kind of very interesting virtual reality.” In 1971, he worked on sets and costumes for the ballet Requiem, by Ligeti, performed at the Theatre contemporain de Grenoble. In 1979, he completed his architectural designs for a bank in Guadalajara, Spain. “The first kinetic architecture in the world,” the bank was designed in black and white, with projections on the floors, staircases, and walls; it was later destroyed.

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




Luz y movimiento. La vanguardia cinética en París 1950-1975 - Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Alicante (MACA), Alicante, Spain


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


Que de la sculpture - Galerie Denise René - Espace Marais, Paris, France


40th anniversary. Twentieth Century Art Collection. 1977-2017 - Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Alicante (MACA), Alicante, Spain



Heterotopias - Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Alicante (MACA), Alicante, Spain


Francisco Sobrino - Museo Francisco Sobrino, Guadalajara, Mexico



Francisco Sobrino - Structure & Transformation - Sicardi Gallery, Houston, TX, USA


Francisco Sobrino - Galerìa Guillermo de Osma, Madrid, Spain


Abstraction/figuration - oeuvres du Centre national des arts plastqiues - Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes, Rennes, France


Francisco Sobrino – Jousse Entreprise, Paris, France


Dynamo Un Siecle De Lumiere Et De Mouvement Dans L’art 1913-2013 - Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, France




Intercambio global. Abstracción geométrica desde 1950 - Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Buenos Aires (MACBA), Buenos Aires, Argentina


European Art: 1949-1979 - Marion R. Taylor: Paintings, 1966–2001 - Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy



North Looks South: Building the Latin American Art Collection - Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), Houston, TX, USA



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


Lo[s] Cinético[s] - Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain


Sobrino - Noir Et Blanc - Galerie Lélia Mordoch, Paris, France


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