Lot 209
  • 209

Jesús Rafael Soto

300,000 - 400,000 USD
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  • Sans titre (Vibración) 
  • mixed media on wood
  • 36 by 24 5/8 by 7 in. 91 by 63 by 17.8 cm.
  • Executed circa 1962.


Collection of Oscar and Cécile Schellekens, Brussels
Private Collection, Belgium (acquired from the above) 


Antwerp, Galerie Ad Libitum, J.R. Soto, February - March 1962


This work is in very good and sound condition overall. All of the mixed media elements are accounted for and secure. The work presents an aged surface, and the metal elements present light rust and oxidation. Light handling marks are present along all four edges of the work, primarily concentrated along the upper right and extreme lower left edges.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Oscar Schellekens (1915-2001) and Cécile Houtart-Schellekens (1921-2003) were witnesses to the growth of contemporary art in the 20th century not only in Brussels, but across Europe. Each was born into an art-loving family; they met in an art history course at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels, and were married in 1942.

Oscar quickly discovered a passion for photography, and throughout his life he walked the esteemed halls of art fairs and museums with his Rolleiflex 6x6, shooting, developing and printing his own photos of the great contemporary artists of his time. From the Venice Biennale, to the museums of Scandinavia, to Documenta in Kassel, nothing escaped the eye of his camera.

Through his artistic endeavors and passion for collecting, he developed good friendships with top painters of the postwar period: Dominguez, Soto, Mortier, Leblanc, Broodthaers, Mesens, Petlin, Jorn, Manzoni, and many others, all of whom he photographed. He was also a known presence at the famous galleries of his time: Galerie Ad Libitum (Antwerp), Galerie Le Zodiaque (Brussels), Galleria del Naviglio (Milan), and many others. He joined group CoBrA in the late 1940s after becoming friends with Christian Dotremont and Serge Vandercam; the photographs he took during this time have been shown in museums throughout Europe. Sotheby’s is proud to present a masterwork from the Schellekens collection by Jesús Rafael Soto, which was first shown at Galerie Ad Libitum in 1962.

In 1960, Venezuelan filmmaker Angel Hurtado together with art critic Clara Diament de Sujo made a short film describing the various stages involved in Soto’s art making process. Following is a transcript of this innovative film.

The artist begins by randomly collecting scrap / thrown out as rubbish / useless / that must be used to make a mural. There is no preconceived plan. No predetermined form / things will develop under their own impetus and dictate their demands. . . . The rest [of the] panel is finished and left aside. [Soto] now begins to compose a mesh of wires / a sort of tangle of knots and sharp points. He uses a factory as his workshop, and if he does not use brushes or pencils it is because it is more appropriate to use a power saw/ a mallet/ a file/ a drill/ a hammer/ pliers / a welder and even an electric one / if not an anvil and a crucible. Flames / sparks / re begin to attack the wire so that it can be twisted / broken and joined until it forms a whole in accordance with the secret plan scarcely formed in Soto’s imagination . . . Now he applies himself to painting lines…, which are to be used as the background. A slow process, painting lines, always more identical lines / furrows of white paint. . . All the different parts are starting to come together / the work begins to assume its final unity. The whole thing is imbued with vibration, and the drama of forces in motion can begin. (Angel Hurtado and Clara Diament de Sujo, "Así nace un mural con Jesús Soto," CAL, no. 3, Caracas May 1962). 

Two years later, Soto would acknowledge that "with all this experience I had gained over the previous years, I came back once again to the organization and rigorous distribution of plastic elements. I retained the system of superimposition and the metallic structures, but only as the basis for a single preoccupation: the quest for pure vibration, the transformation of material elements into light, the breaking down of rigid matter into elastic matter . . . Pure vibration appeared as a relationship between thousands of other unknowns. (Jesús Rafael Soto,“Teoría de Jesús Soto,” El minero, Vol. 7, no. 11, Caracas September - October 1967, p. 6).