Victor Vasarely Op Art Zebra & Zebras



          Zebra 1938 Vasarely Museum, Pecs, Hungary                          Zebras 1939

  Op Art made its appearance in the
United States and Europe in the late 1950s. Op Art, also called Optical Art, was popular along side Pop Art. Branching from the geometric abstraction movement, Op Art includes paintings concerned with surface kinetics. It was a movement which exploits the fallibility of the eye through the use of optical illusions. The viewer gets the impression of movement by flashing and vibration, or alternatively of swelling or warping. Two techniques used to achieve this effect are perspective illusion and chromatic tension. Artists used colors, lines and shapes repetitive and simple ways to create perceived movement and to trick the viewer's eye. Many of first, the better known pieces were made in only black and white.


 Op Art was encompassing artists of very different nationalities, including Soto (Venezuelan), Agam (Israeli), Vasarely (Hungarian) and Riley (English). The aim of Op Art was to produce illusions of depth, relief and motion; it would blur or stir the eye, but never by resorting to actual movement (as in Kinetic Art).

   The term first appeared in print in Time Magazine in October 1964. Victor Vasarely's 1930s works such as Zebra (1938), which is made up entirely of diagonal black and white stripes curved in a way to give a three-dimensional impression of a seated zebra, should be considered the first works of Op Art.

   The Parisian gallery owner Denise Rene was the very first person to show Op Art to the public.

   In 1965 The Museum of Modern Art in
New York put on a major Op Art exhibition, The Responsive Eye. This show did a great deal to make op art prominent, and many of the artists now considered important in the style exhibited there.

   Op art subsequently became tremendously popular, and Op Art images were used in a number of commercial contexts. The artist Vasarely helped the most to popularize Op Art projects and research; he produced many of his works within the architecture and planning of large cities. Bridget Riley is perhaps the best known of the Op artists. Taking Vasarely's lead, she made a number of paintings consisting only of black and white lines.



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