Yaacov Agam was born in 1928 in Mandate, Palestine, which is now Rischon LeZion, Israel. His father was a rabbi, Talmudic scholar, and Kabbalist. He attended the New Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts in Jerusalem. Agam was recognized for his accomplishments in drawing, but sought to reach a more spiritual approach with an inspiration that was rooted in his upbringing and exposure to the ideas surrounding Hebrew mysticism. When asked about the purpose of his work, he stated:
"My intention was to create a work of art which would transcend the visible, which cannot be perceived except in stages, with the understanding that it is a partial revelation and not the perpetuation of the existing,”
Agam eventually decided to settle down in Paris, where he studied at the Atelier d'art Abstrait and at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. In 1953 he received his first solo exhibition, which featured kinetic art. Considered one of the pioneers of this artistic style, Agam's kinetic artworks require movement in order to achieve their full visual effect. He is known for working with a variety of mediums that change color and form as the viewer moves. These objects contain patterns that can be altered by the viewer, with tactile constructions that move, vibrate, or make noise when touched. He has exhibited extensively worldwide, in institutions such as the Musée National d'Art Moderne in Paris, the Jewish and Guggenheim Museum in New York, and the Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico City. In recent years, his art has broken auction records for work produced by Israeli artists. In addition to his presence in the art world, he has also made contributions to studies in early education with his Agam Method of visual learning, which earned him recognition from UNESCO in 1996.
While the artist’s work is found all over the world in places like Strasbourg, New York, and Paris, Chicago is also lucky enough to be the home to one of Yaacov Agam’s famous kinetic sculptures. Communication X9, a 43-foot-tall, stainless steel piece stands proudly on 150 N Michigan Avenue. The totem-inspired form changes color as pedestrians walk by. Agam’s work is easily identifiable not only by its physical and visual movement, but also because of the use of a vibrant color pallet. The piece, which was initially installed and dedicated in 1983 by Mayor Harold Washington, suffered damage and weathering due to years of harsh Chicago winters. In an effort to maintain the piece, as well as the status with its location along Chicago’s Cultural Mile, a campaign for the structure’s restoration began in 2005. The project was completed in 2008, and while it was met with some controversy regarding the quality of the coloration, the conservation has allowed for the piece to stand for nearly 10 more years. The various views, movements, and pigments are meant to embody the art of movement and people’s role within it.
Conservation can extend the life of your fine art and personal property, and make it so future generations can appreciate them, and may affect the value of the piece. Certain items like coins or antique furniture may have more value if they are left in their original condition. Here at MIR Appraisal Services, we offer conservation proposals as a courtesy to our clients. We are also qualified to determine the value of your items and whether or not they would benefit from the process in order for you to make the best possible decision regarding the preservation of your property. Communication X9’s existence along Michigan Avenue is one of many other public art installations in the city, and is located just two blocks from MIR Appraisal Services. After coming to us with your own collections, be sure to stop by the sculpture to appreciate it in person!
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“Agam (Yaacov Agam) | MoMA.” The Museum of Modern Art, The Museum of Modern Art , www.moma.org/artists/79?locale=en.
“Agam, Yaacov.” Park West Gallery, Park West Gallery, 2008, www.parkwestgallery.com/artist/yaacov-agam.
Jyoti. “Loop [Communication X9 - by Yaacov Agam].” Public Art in Chicago, 15 Mar. 2009, chicago-outdoor-sculptures.blogspot.com/2009/03/help-identify.html.
Kanon, Sharon. “For Israel’s Agam, It’s All about Visual Thinking.” Israel21c, 9 Oct. 2006, www.israel21c.org/for-israels-agam-its-all-about-visual-thinking/.
Koenig-Badowski. “Chicago Public Art.” Communication X9, Dr. Wendy K. Koenig and Christine Badowski, 6 Sept. 2013, chicagopublicart.blogspot.com/2013/09/communication-x9.html.
Sachdev, Ameet. “Sculpture Returns, but Artist Not Happy.” Tribunedigital-Chicagotribune, Chicago Tribune , 25 Apr. 2008, articles.chicagotribune.com/2008-04-25/business/0804240991_1_restoration-sculpture-returns-yaacov-agam.
“Yaacov Agam.” Yaacov Agam | Artnet, Artnet Worldwide Corporation, www.artnet.com/artists/yaacov-agam/.