Victor Vasarely – the leading representative of op-art

Quasar Dia 1965, Victor Vasarely
Quasar Dia 1965

Victor Vasarely was an outstanding artist of the 20th century, the most famous theorist and one of the best practitioners of the op-art direction, the “father” of the art of illusion. Victor Vasarely considered the main thing not the picture on the canvas itself, but how our brain perceives it. He boldly experimented with depicting precise geometric shapes, using bright contrasting colors, which together created the effect of smooth, endless movement.

According to the master, the art of op-art does not affect the viewer’s brain, but the retina of the eye. But once seeing his work, it is difficult to refrain from trying to find a hidden meaning in them. The artist left a rich legacy to descendants – hundreds of paintings, his own museum and fund, made in a bizarre architectural form.

Keiho C1 1963
Keiho C1 1963

Biography and work of Victor Vasarely

Victor Vasarely, whose real name sounds like Vasarhelyi Gyozo, was born on April 9, 1906 (according to some sources – 1908) in the Hungarian city of Pecs. He lived most of his life in France, received French citizenship and died in Paris, so the French justly consider him “their” artist, and the Hungarians, in turn, Hungarian.

Victor Vasarely said little in interviews about his childhood, so biographers have to speculate. Some argue that the boy was interested in art from an early age, others – that in childhood and adolescence, he focused on science. One way or another, in 1925, the young man entered the evening department of the Budapest Medical Institute and got a job at an enterprise that produces laboratory equipment.

Tigres 1938, Victor Vasarely
Tigres 1938

And just two years later, he dropped out of medical school and forever linked his life with painting. He studied at the private art academy of Artur Podolini-Volkmann, painted advertising posters, comprehended the basics of contemporary avant-garde art, studied the influence of paintings on human emotions.

He worked a lot, but in the evenings he always found time to be creative “for himself.”

In 1928, the young man entered an art school called “Workshop” (Műhely), which was considered a quite tolerable branch of the Bauhaus in Budapest. At the same time, the artist met his future wife, graphic artist Clara Spinner. In 1930, the couple got married and left for Paris. Here Diezu Vasarelyi took the pseudonym Victor Vasarely, began working in the op-art genre and settled for the rest of his life.

Yvaral 1956
Yvaral 1956

So what is op art? This is a triumph of color and light, complete freedom of expression, an amazing combination of geometric shapes that “revive” the picture for many years before the advent of computer 3D graphics. Victor Vasarely argued that art is free, that in the future it will disappear as a species or not be called art at all, and did not limit himself to rules and frameworks.

He was inspired by nature itself, its forms and colors, the innumerable wealth of the surrounding world, but he transferred it to the canvas coded. His paintings were so impressive that at exhibitions people repeatedly lost consciousness … And it was the collage “Cosmos” that became the first work of art that went into outer space on the Soyuz T-6 spacecraft.

Zebra 1950, Victor Vasarely
Zebra 1950

It is noteworthy that Victor Vasarely considered the idea to be much more important than the execution. And very often gave his works to assistants to work, leading the process. The artist died on March 15, 1997 in Paris, at the age of 90. Clara had passed away seven years earlier. Their marriage lasted 70 years, the couple left two sons and two grandchildren.

The most famous paintings by Victor Vasarely

The paintings and architectural compositions of Viktor Vasarely seem to be playing with the viewer, challenging him, asking with interest:

  1. “Well, didn’t I expect to see this?” Among all the works, the following can be highlighted: Vega Szem (1978) – how much depth and volume in this seemingly simple work.
  2. Ion 11 (1967) – it remains only to imagine how impressive this work looks on canvas, even if the image on the monitor screen seems to be alive.
  3. TUZ-2-4 (1980-1983) – the size of the work is only 20 by 20 centimeters. The painting was sold at auction for £ 211.5 thousand.
  4. The Vasarely Foundation building, opened in 1976 – 5000 m² of floor space, 16 hexagonal prisms 14 meters wide, black and white aluminum panels and glass and wood domes through which natural light enters the rooms.
Yapoura 1954, Victor Vasarely
Yapoura 1954
Biadan 1959, Victor Vasarely
Biadan 1959
Riu-Kiu-C 1960
Riu-Kiu-C 1960
Alphabet VR 1960
Alphabet VR 1960
Caopeo 1964
Caopeo 1964
Kateau 1953
Kateau 1953
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