Yaacov Agam is a renowned sculptor. He was born in Mandate Palestine, and lived there until 1949, the year after the establishment of the State of Israel. While living in Mandate Palestine, Agam studied in Jerusalem at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. Following his 1949 move to Switzerland, he studied at Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule and the Zurich University. He moved to Paris in 1951. Agam is considered one of the founders of kinetic art. Kinetic artworks typically contain moving elements and rely on motion provided by natural forces, motors, or human intervention in order to achieve their visual effects. In a twist on the classic model of kinetic art, Agam’s sculpture Peaceful Communication with the World is painted in such a way that children’s growth will change how the work appears to them as they get taller. In a more traditional vein, his Fire and Water Fountain uses mechanically driven parts to help achieve the visual effects.
Agam works almost entirely in sculpture, with many of the sculptures on a massive scale. One of his more famous pieces called Hanukkah Menorah is located in New York City, stands 32 feet high, and can function as a menorah. His sculptures appear in numerous cities around the world, including Jerusalem, Paris, Tel Aviv, Los Angeles, and the Bahamas. He has held exhibitions and retrospectives at both museums and galleries. His work has been shown in retrospectives at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Musee National d’art Moderne in Paris, and the Tel Aviv Museum. His solo exhibitions have appeared at Marlborough-Gerson Gallery in New York, the Museo de Arte Modemo in Mexico, and the Jewish Museum in New York.
In addition to artistic work, Agam routinely involves himself in art education, with lectures delivered at universities and conventions. In 1968, he served as a guest lecturer at Harvard University, where he taught a course on visual communication. Some of his educational ideas for enhancing the cognitive and creative skills of children have been implemented in Israel. The artist currently lives and works in Paris.