Victor Vasarely


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Hungarian-born French painter, sculptor, and graphic artist and the main originator of op art.

Vasarély studied medicine in Budapest before changing to study art (1927–29), partly under the tuition of Moholy-Nagy. In 1930 Vasarély moved to Paris, where he concentrated on graphic work until this gave way to painting in 1943. The style of geometric abstraction for which he is best known dates from about 1947. Through these paintings and the manifestos on the use of optical phenomena in art, written after 1955, Vasarély was largely responsible for the growth of the op art movement and the founding in 1961 of the Groupe de Recherche d'Art Visuel. His painting method, which he described as ‘cinétisme’, created an impression of movement mainly by means of visual ambiguities that required the precisely calculated clear-cut geometric forms characteristic of his pictures. The aim of these pictures was not beauty but perceptual discomfort producing intense visual experience.

Vasarély also produced sculptures, experimented with kinetic art, and collaborated with architects on numerous projects, such as the French pavilion at Expo 67 in Montreal. He received many international art prizes in the 1960s and academic and national honours in the 1970s and 1980s.

Subjects: Art — Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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