Victor Vasarely

Victor Vasarely was a French-Hungarian artist considered the grandfather and leader of the Op Art movement. Using geometric shapes and colorful graphics, the artist created convincing illusions of spatial depth, as seen in his work Vega-Nor (1969). Vasarely’s painting method borrowed from a variety of influences, including Bauhaus design principles, Wassily Kandinsky and Constructivism.

Born Győző Vásárhelyi on April 9, 1906 in Pécs, Hungary, he briefly studied medicine, but after two years turned to learning academic painting. In the late 1920s, Vasarely enrolled at the Muhely Academy in Budapest, where the curriculum was largely based on Walter Gropius’s Bauhaus school in Germany. After settling in Paris in 1930, Vasarely worked in advertising agencies to support himself as a graphic artist while creating many works, including Zebra (1937), which some consider one of the earliest examples of Op Art. The artist experimented with a style based on surrealism and abstract expressionism during the 1940s, before arriving at his characteristic checkerboard paintings. Op Art went on to have several practitioners, including Bridget Riley and Yaacov Agam. The artist died at the age of 90 on March 15, 1997 in Paris, France. His works are currently in the collections of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Tate Gallery in London and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice. In 2019, a temporary exhibition of Vasarely’s work entitled Le Partage des Formes was on display at the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris.