HOUSTON -- It’s not every day you’re actually allowed to touch the art at the Museum of Fine Arts. But “The Houston Penetrable” by Venezuelan artist Jesus Rafael Soto, invites patrons to engulf themselves in a sea of plastic tubes.
“You are interacting with all of these elements,” says curator Mari Carmen Ramirez. “And these elements are going to change your perception of space.”
It consists of 24,000 plastic tubes – much like the ones used for intravenous fluids at hospitals – hanging almost three stories high, from reinforced metal beams.
That’s because while it’s made from plastic, the display weighs around eight tons.
It was commissioned in 2004, but the artist died just months after finishing the design.
Still, Ramirez and her team continued Soto’s vision.
She says the most challenging aspect was the creation of the yellow ellipse, made by artists in France.
“They had to do it by hand and the process took over a year,” said Ramirez.
This particular installation is extra special. It was the last work created by the artist before he died.
In the past, Soto’s works were destroyed after they had been on display, but Houston’s installation is part of the museum’s permanent collection – it will be brought out almost every summer.
Ramirez says Soto is a globally renowned artist.
“In terms of art history, he is considered to be one of the great artists of the 20th century,” said Ramirez.
And she says this latest acquisition has the art world paying increasing respect to Houston.
“Houston has been a well-kept secret for a long time and people are just now realizing what’s going on in terms of the art scene here,” said Ramirez.Photos: Walk through this 'tube art' in Houston