Victor Vasarely

VICTOR VASARELY (1908-1997)

Born in Hungary, Vasarely began by studying medicine but later decided to train as an artist. He studied in Budapest but settled in Paris in 1930, working as a graphic artist whilst continuing to develop his own ideas and style.

By the late 1940’s he had adopted a style based upon geometric abstraction. He developed an intense interest in visual ambiguities, optical effects and illusions, where the juxtaposition of geometric forms could create the impression of movement or the illusion of depth or distortion. From the mid 1950’s he wrote a number of manifestos outlining his ideas. Essentially, Vasarely was interested in creating intense visual experience rather than depicting the appearance of the real world. Furthermore, the emphasis was on visual sensation not on the intellect. He said

“…to experience the presence of a work of art is more important than to understand it”.

Vasarely’s ideas had a profound effect on other artists. Although he called his approach “cinetisme”, his work led directly to the development of what became known, by 1964, as “Op Art”.

He was strongly committed to the notion that works of art should belong to all. He was a dedicated printmaker and his work is particularly well suited to the medium of screenprinting.

Vasarely won many international prizes, had more than 150 solo exhibitions and his work is held in most important public collections. Thee are two museums (in Aix-en Provence in France and Pecs in Hungary) and a wing of the Zichy Palace in Hungary exclusively devoted to his work.