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Artists Victor Vasarely
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Victor Vasarely

Hungarian-French Painter and Sculptor

Movements and Styles: Op Art, Abstract Art, Modernism and Modern Art, Kinetic Art

Born: April 9, 1906 - Pécs, Hungary

Died: March 15, 1997 - Paris, France

Victor Vasarely Timeline

Quotes

"OP-ART or kinetic abstraction? It is nothing else but introducing the dimension of movement, space and time into the plastic world. We are still in two-dimensional world, but the illusion of creating space and movement in micro-time is so strong that it acts as reality."
Victor Vasarely
"It is the original idea that is unique, not the object itself."
Victor Vasarely
"Pure form and pure color can signify the world."
Victor Vasarely
"A painter is no more an inspired, empirical individual, but an educated researcher, resembling a scientist. He is aware of both physical and psychological needs, as well as the rights of humanity."
Victor Vasarely
"Art is bound to become the public treasure."
Victor Vasarely
"The art of tomorrow will be a collective treasure or it will not be art at all."
Victor Vasarely
"On one hand there is a direction leading to the world of cells, molecules and atoms, invisible to the eye, while the other direction points at the remote, huge, starry universe"
Victor Vasarely
"This inspiration gave rise to poetry and life, even eternal life. Is there a reason as to why this expanded, gigantesque, physical reality with associated relativity, electric and magnetic field, its light waves, problems of matter, space and time, wonders and secrets, could not become an inexhaustible source of new poetry and beauty?"
Victor Vasarely
"Conventional painting, in a sense of technique and message, has become somewhat exhausted and started to repeat itself! This is called decadence."
Victor Vasarely
"Already in 1935 my graphic studies featured the first vibratory effects. However, I started consciously pursuing kinetic effects only around 1950. In the following years I have created those black and white, positive-negative works, that today become world fashion known as OP-ART i.e. optic art."
Victor Vasarely
"My art transposes nature this one more time, the moment right now, the one of physics that renders the world physically comprehensible."
Victor Vasarely
"Painting is but a medium, the ultimate goal is to search, to define, to integrate the plastic phenomenon into everyday life"
Victor Vasarely

"A contemporary painter can no longer be content with painting pretty little pictures. He must beautify the details of the modern, grandiose environment, since people need plastic forms same as they need sunlight, oxygen or vitamins."

Victor Vasarely Signature

Synopsis

Victor Vasarely provided us with some of the most distinctive images and optical effects in 20th-century art. From his days as a commercial graphic designer in 1930s-40s Paris to his final decades developing and marketing what he hoped would become a new universal language for art and architectural design, Vasarely steered a unique course, combining virtuosic technical precision with a scientific awareness of optical and geometrical effects. He is best known for his grid-like paintings and sculptures of the 1960s onwards, which play with the reader's sense of visual form by creating illusory, flickering effects of depth, perspective, and motion. In making the act of looking one of their primary subjects, these works speak to a quintessentially modern concern with the difference between what we can see and what is really there.

Key Ideas

Vasarely was perhaps the first modern artist to realize that Kinetic Art did not have to move. Instead he created an extraordinary series of paintings and sculptures which used geometrical effects to suggest motion within static forms. From illusions of oscillation and vibration to Escher-like tricks whereby apparent indentations in the picture-surface suddenly seem to protrude from it, Vasarely's pioneering techniques not only influenced the Op Art movement of the 1960s, but helped to define the whole psychedelic mood of that decade.
Like his predecessors in the Constructivist and Concrete Art movements, Vasarely wanted to create a universal visual vocabulary for modern art. By the 1960s, he had developed what he called an "Alphabet Plastique" of endlessly interchangeable compositional elements. These small, square units each consisted of a simple combination of figure and ground, whose color and shape could be changed in any number of ways, to be organized in any conceivable pattern. This aspect of Vasarely's work exemplifies a post-Second World War concern with using art to communicate across national and cultural boundaries, by stripping away all topical reference, and using visual effects so simple that they would mean the same thing to any viewer. In this way, Vasarely sought to create what he called a "Planetary Folklore".
As a student of Constructivism, Vasarely believed that art should have a functional purpose within society, an aim he pursued partly by exploring the overlaps between art and architecture. As well as designing murals and other visual features specifically for architectural spaces, Vasarely believed that his visual vocabulary of interchangeable compositional elements could be used in urban planning, as a way of combining qualities of regularity and variety within domestic architecture, street design, and so on. While many artists from the 1910s onwards had considered how modern art and architecture might influence each other, few pursued that idea with such a singular and consistent vision as Vasarely.

Biography

Victor Vasarely Photo

Childhood

Victor Vasarely was born in the city of Pécs, Hungary, in 1906. Shortly afterwards, his family moved to Pieštany in Slovakia, where he spent his childhood years, though he also travelled extensively across Eastern Europe. Little is known of Vasarely's early life, except that he did not seem to express any artistic impulses, seeming more interested in science.

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Victor Vasarely Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Victor Vasarely
Interactive chart with Victor Vasarely's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Kazimir MalevichKazimir Malevich
László Moholy-NagyLászló Moholy-Nagy
Walter GropiusWalter Gropius
Lajos KassakLajos Kassak
Auguste Herbin

Personal Contacts

Sandor Bortnyik

Movements

ConstructivismConstructivism
BauhausBauhaus
Concrete Art
Kinetic ArtKinetic Art
Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism

Influences on Artist
Victor Vasarely
Victor Vasarely
Years Worked: 1928 - 1980s
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Gaspar Noé
James TurrellJames Turrell
Robert IrwinRobert Irwin
Craig Kauffman

Personal Contacts

Jean HelionJean Helion
Anatole Jakovsky

Movements

Light and SpaceLight and Space
Light Art
Groupe de Recherche d'Art Visuel

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Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Sarah Frances Dias

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Greg Thomas

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Sarah Frances Dias
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Greg Thomas
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