Vasarely Essay, Research Paper
Straight lines that appear curved, views that display two perspectives at once-these are the trademarks of op art, pioneered and pushed to new levels by Victor Vasarely.
GAUZE bandage-for most, this cloth is simply an aid to healing. Victor Vasarely looked at the criss-cross threads, laid over a childhood cut, and it led him to become the “Father of Op Art.”
The young Vasarely noticed the threads forming grids on the bandage. These formations intrigued him, and, later in life, became the basis of his career in art.
Op, or optical, art, creates the illusion of movement or apparent change in dimensions by using colors and patterns juxtaposed against each other.
Vasarely liked the play of positive-negative relationships and how they interacted with each other. Instead of making one stand out, he would incorporate both aspects into one design, causing them to join forces instead of battling one another.
He was inspired by many different things, however: the cracked tiles on the walls of a Paris subway station, the shapes of beach pebbles and shells, and the vibrating chord of the Hungarian cimbalom. For Vasarely, almost anything which offered a dichotomy of opposites could have been an inspiration.
BORN VICTOR V+S+RHELYI IN P+CS, Hungary in 1908, he had ambitions to study medicine. He attended the University of Budapest in 1925, but changed direction in 1927 to begin artistic training at the Podolini-Volkmann Academy, also in Budapest.
From there he studied under painter S ndor Bortnyik, known as the Budapest Bauhaus, at the M*hely Academy. He was featured at the Kov cs +kos Gallery in Budapest in 1930 and at the Ernst Museum in 1933.
At the same time Vasarely’s reputation as an artist was growing, the Hungarian government began to associate avant-garde painters with progressive political movements it saw as threatening its regime. It began pressuring artists, attempting to control the content of their work and placed tight laws on what and how they could paint.
Upset with the political situation, Vasarely left Hungary and moved to Paris, a Mecca for artists. He changed his name to the common spelling and became a French citizen. For this reason, Vasarely often is not associated with his Hungarian roots.
When he arrived in Paris, Vasarely became a graphic designer, where he could further study his art while making a living. This career was short-lived, and he soon turned to painting full-time. Some of the pieces in the exhibition were done while he was a designer, however, including a plastic black-and-clear sculpture of zebras which appears to be three-dimensional, yet sits on a flat surface.
It was in Paris that Vasarely remembered the grid of the bandage on his hand, and that he began to see a connection between mathematics and science – which he greatly admired – and his artwork. He would start off with a simple grid and manipulate the lines and colors to create the illusion of movement, (Brief note: Most of his paintings were done freehand, but with help of some apprentices and mechanisms) . He also began studying relativity, wave mechanics, cybernetics and astrophysics.
Vasarely mainly sought to bring art to every day life. He felt his personal success and career were secondary to the contribution his work could make to humanity.
He began creating sight-specific architectural works. This did not involve constructing buildings, but rather integrating art with the existing buildings to make them more attractive to look at.
Some of the structures he beautified include the Hilton Hotel in Brussels, the KLM Building in Amsterdam and the 1968 Olympic speed skating rink in Grenoble, France.
Vasarely was a perfectionist, a character trait that drove his love of Op art, a very technical, exacting style; the lines have to be perfect for the illusions of movement to be successful. Any flaws in the work would ruin the intended effect.
It was during this time which Vasarely had apprentices help with the technical aspects of his art. He began designing a device which would reproduce his images in various colors and tones. The device contained 625 compartments, and produced numerous variations of his work. While he dedicated much time and writing to this project, he never saw its completion.
Vasarely was a major contributor to the 1965 exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York entitled “The Responsive Eye.” He then opened the Vasarely Museum in Gordes, France, the Vasarely Foundation in Aix-en Provence and the Vasarely Center on Madison Avenue in New York.
In the early 1980s, he decided to return to his homeland to trace his Hungarian roots. During most of his career the country was communist, and was not particularly conducive to artists interested in expressing themselves.
He returned to his birthplace in P cs and opened a museum dedicated to his work. He dedicated 400 pieces of work to the state which are displayed at the Vasarely museum in Budapest.
After a long superb career of fooling the eye, Vasarely died of a stroke in 1997.