Yaacov Agam was born in 1928, in Rishon-le-Zion, which was Palestine at the time of his birth and is now a part of Israel. He is the son of a Rabbi, and Judaism has always influenced his work. He started his art education at the Bezalel School in Jerusalem from 1947-1948. After which he moved to the Giedion Art School in Zurich for 1949, and finally to the Atelier d’Art Abstrait in Paris in 1951. In 1953 he held his first one-man show in the Craven Gallery, Paris. It was called ‘Peintures en Mouvement.’ He exhibited with a number of other famous artists, including Alexander Calder, in ‘Le Mouvement’ at the Denise Rene Gallery. This is now looked back upon as one of the founding exhibits of the Kinetic Art Movement.
Much of Agam’s artistic career was spent discovering the ways in which he could incorporate and represent the amazing dynamic nature of Judaism and Jewish
culture. He felt that other attempts had been too static, and sought something that changed, and developed with time, perception, etc. About Judaism, Agam said: “Judaism views life as a dynamic, creative, evolving process.” This is the element that he sought to bring to his work.
This led to a number of sculptures that have interactive aspects; something that viewers can touch and rearrange. Agam on this interaction between art and audience:
My works, even in a museum, have no ropes keeping people away. I invite the viewer to come close, to touch, to move, to do, to participate actively in a changing experience. He or she is, as it were, a partner with the artist in then creation because each moment of someone’s response to and involvement in my work is different from the next moment of a different vantage point, and different from the next person’s and different from mine.
Agam has, and continues, to do much in the way of public art. His magnificent fountains live all over the world, and he has created the world’s largest menorah in New York city. He was commissioned in 1979 to make a piece of art commemorating the peacemaking efforts between Anwar el-Sadat and Menachem Begin. Agamcreated a sculpture that when viewed differently shows three stars: the five pointed star of Islam, the six pointed Star of David, and a new star created by the merging of the other two. Agam is working to this day, having presented Pope Francis with an agamograph in 2014.