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Home / Art and Culture / Victor Vasarely death anniversary: Remembering the grandfather of op art

Victor Vasarely death anniversary: Remembering the grandfather of op art

Hungarian-French artist Victor Vasarely breathed his last on March 15, 1997. Considered to be the ‘grandfather’ and leader of the op art movement, one of Vasarely’s earliest work that he is popular for is Zebra, an artwork created entirely of curvilinear black and white stripes.

art-and-culture Updated: Mar 15, 2020 13:21 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Delhi
Hungarian-French artist Victor Vasarely breathed his last on March 15, 1997.
Hungarian-French artist Victor Vasarely breathed his last on March 15, 1997.(BRITTANICA.COM)

Hungarian-French artist Victor Vasarely breathed his last on March 15, 1997. Considered to be the ‘grandfather’ and leader of the op art movement, one of Vasarely’s earliest work that he is popular for is Zebra, an artwork created entirely of curvilinear black and white stripes. He created the piece of work in the 1930s and it is considered to be one of the earliest examples of op art. The op art or optical art is a type of abstract art that makes generous use of optical illusions. Optical art gives viewers impressions of movement, patterns or swelling and warping through their etchings. It is believed that Neo-impressionism, Cubism, futurism, Constructivism and Dada were some of the precursors of the op art movement.

Born on April 9, 1906, Vasarely grew up in Budapest and went on to take up medical studies at the Eotvos Lorand University in 1925.

However, he abandoned it midway to learn traditional academic painting at the podolini-Volkmann Academy and subsequently at Budapest’s Muhely.

Vasarely married his student Claire Spinner in 1930 and they had two sons Andre and Jean-Pierre. During the 1930s, Vasarely was a graphic designer and poster artist.

The same year, Vasarely migrated to Paris from Hungary and started working as a creative consultant at various advertising agencies like Havas, Draeger and Devambez.

Following the Second World War, the creator of Blue Study and Green Study, opened a private workshop in Arcueli, a few kilometres from Paris.

Following his migration to Paris, Vasarely went on to develop his geometric abstract art in minimal forms and colours, producing works like Denfert, Belles-Isles among others.

His works can be roughly divided into three periods from his Early graphics between 1929 and 1944, where he was still experimenting with texture, shadows and perspective, to the period between 1944 and 1947, when experimented with cubistic, futuristic, and surrealistic paintings and his final developing of optical art between 1947 and 1951.

In 1970, he opened a museum with over 500 works and in 1976, his work Georges Pompidou was installed in the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Cosmonaut Jean-Loup Chretien took 154 of Vasarely’s works aboard the French-Soviet spacecraft Salyut 7 in 1982 and later sold them for the benefit of UNESCO.

At the time of his death, the pioneering artist was a nonagenarian.

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