Yaacov Gipstein, known as Yaacov Agam was born on 11 May 1928, in Rishon LeZion (then Mandate Palestine). This son of an Orthodox Rabbi had his initial training in art at the Bezalel School in Jerusalem in 1946.
In 1950, Agam moved to Zurich to study with Bauhaus’ color-theoretician Johannes Itten at the Kunstgewerbeschule. There, he met Frank Lloyd Wright and Siegfried Giedion, whose ideas on the element of time in art and architecture made a great impact on him.
Because Judaism believes life is dynamic and ever-changing, Agam rejected the traditional static concepts of painting and sculpture that were inadequate to express the constantly occurring changes which surround us.
In 1951, Agam moved to Paris, where he met many Surrealist artists that were the first ones to discover and encourage him. He held his first solo exhibition at Galerie Craven in Paris in 1953, featuring kinetic and transformable paintings which invited the viewer to participate. This show occurred to be an inflexion point for the artist’s success and since then he has attracted considerable attention in art circles and has become one of the most influential artists of modern times.
In 1955, Yaacov Agam established himself as one of the leading pioneers of kinetic art at the exhibition “Le Mouvement” at the Galerie Denise René alongside such artists as Jesús Rafael Soto, Alexander Calder or Jean Tinguely.
His work is optical in nature but changes with movement. The viewer can participate, either by manually transforming the work or by physically passing by in front of it, and observe a change in the artwork that depends on the viewing angle.
Agam works with many media, including painting in two and three-dimensions, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, stained glass, serigraphy, lithography, etching, and combinations of media. His creation, the “Agamograph”, consists in a multiple series of images that, once viewed through a lenticular screen, form an artwork that changes at every angle viewed. This unique and particular concept makes this kind of artworks very appreciated by collectors all around the world.
Yaacov Agam has also written and published many books about his works, concepts and exhibitions.
He still lives in Paris and keeps working on his art being the highest-selling Israeli artist.