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OP Art abstract

Op art (or Optical Art) is an art movement that emerged the 1960s. Op art uses shapes and colours to create optical effects that trick the viewer's perception and enable artists to explore the limits of our vision. Op Art drew inspiration from the pictorial theories developed by the painter Wassily Kandinsky, as well as the Bauhaus school's aesthetic of the 1920s. Op Art artists sought to bring modernity and functionality into artistic creations, especially through industrial design and constructivism. They were fascinated by the relationship between geometric forms and our brain's response to them. They explored the idea that paintings did not exist merely on a wall, but also in the viewer's eye. 

Within the Op Art movements, some artists were fervent supporters of black and white while others focused on colour-based artworks. Josef Albers, a Bauhaus artist and teacher, developed a colour theory concerned with relativity and instability which would inspire several Op Art pioneers. Still, black and white works were also popular, especially at the start of the movement. Artists played with the minimalist tones to compose canvases with lines, shapes, and patterns. Many artists experimented with both techniques. Bridget Riley, for example, started painting with her signature black and white to explore dynamism and movement but she later turned to colour and used contrasts to create shimmering effects in her paintings. 

Another artist who experimented as much with black and white as with colours is Victor Vasarely, one of the most famous names in Op Art. Born in Pec, Hungary in 1906, he started his artistic career as a member of the Bauhaus school. His early works, such as Zebras (1938) foreshadowed the creative path he would take to become a visionary Op Art creator. One of Vasarely's main concern was to create a universal art that would be accessible to as wide an audience as possible; the artist despised the idea that art was reserved for a small group of elite connoisseurs. This way, his art became a brand of its own, omnipresent in the 1960s pop culture, mass-produced for advertising, books, music, tableware… Vasarely's signature style could be found everywhere. His series Vega: Homage to the Hexagon is a great example of how the artist played with geometrical associations to create optical illusions of volume.

Op Art differentiates itself from kinetic art as there is no motor “in" the artwork per se, but rather it is the eye that functions as the artwork's motor, the optical illusions have the ability to create a semblance of movement. Kinetic art started slightly earlier than Op Art and inspired in part by futurism. Both Marcel Duchamp and Alexander Calder were affiliated to the kinetic art movement. The term “Op Art" was coined in 1964, in a Time Magazine article, and garnered international recognition following the 1965 exhibition “The Receptive Eye" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. 

Today, Op Art is making its great comeback, and major art exhibitions are dedicated to the art movement, such as the 2019 retrospective on Victor Vasarely organised at by the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Naturally, contemporary art finds inspiration in this intriguing style and many artists today are re-exploring the science behind Op Art. Browse their artworks in Artsper's selections of paintings, drawings, sculptures. 

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Victor Vasarely, Bianco, Painting

Victor Vasarely

Bianco, 1987
52 x 52 x 1 inch
Painting

$300,000

Our recommendations Victor Vasarely, Kettes, Sculpture

Victor Vasarely

Kettes, 1988
27.5 x 16 x 2.25 inch
Sculpture

$22,000

Carlos Cruz-Diez, Couleur additive série 14, Painting

Carlos Cruz-Diez

Couleur additive série 14, 2009
31.5 x 31.5 inch
Painting

$46,522

Jim Bird, Tribute to Vasarely 15, Print

Jim Bird

Tribute to Vasarely 15, 1972
26.8 x 26.8 inch
Print

$256

Our recommendations Richard Anuszkiewicz, Untitled - Blue II, Print

Richard Anuszkiewicz

Untitled - Blue II, 1991
32 x 37 inch
Print

$3,000

Alex Pariss, Sans titre, Painting

Alex Pariss

Sans titre, 2016
39.4 x 39.4 x 0.4 inch
Painting

$930

Jean-Pierre Yvaral, JFK Lincoln, Print

Jean-Pierre Yvaral

JFK Lincoln, 1976
31.9 x 41.3 x 0.8 inch
Print

$1,396

Bakner, Carré Virtuel Mauve, Photography

Bakner

Carré Virtuel Mauve, 2016
31.5 x 31.5 x 0.2 inch
Photography

$2,791

Anni Albers, GR I, Print

Anni Albers

GR I, 1970
29 x 24 inch
Print

$3,600

Marcel Sánchez Manzano, Illusion No. 1, Painting

Marcel Sánchez Manzano

Illusion No. 1, 2017
25.6 x 39.4 x 1.2 inch
Painting

$523

Topotet, Orange Elephant, Sculpture

Topotet

Orange Elephant, 2017
39.4 x 47.2 x 2 inch
Sculpture

$930

Alberto Biasi, Dinamica visiva S2, Print

Alberto Biasi

Dinamica visiva S2, 1970
21.3 x 21.3 inch
Print

$919

Ferruccio Gard, Emotions in Optical, Painting

Ferruccio Gard

Emotions in Optical, 2018
19.7 x 23.6 x 1.6 inch
Painting

$18,609

Victor Vasarely, The Skier, Print

Victor Vasarely

The Skier, 1984
33.5 x 24.5 inch
Print

$1,500

Victor Vasarely, Munich Olympics, Print

Victor Vasarely

Munich Olympics, 1972
33 x 29 inch
Print

$2,400

Our recommendations Victor Vasarely, Operenccia, Painting

Victor Vasarely

Operenccia, 1986
40 x 66 x 1 inch
Painting

$350,000

Victor Vasarely, Untitled from Permutations, Print

Victor Vasarely

Untitled from Permutations, 1968
27 x 27 inch
Print

$2,800

Colin McNaught, Seachd Fleodraidh Cearnach, Painting

Colin McNaught

Seachd Fleodraidh Cearnach, 2017
24 x 24 x 2 inch
Painting

$1,200

Go Segawa, Collision II Ed.25, Sculpture

Go Segawa

Collision II Ed.25, 2019
3.5 x 3.5 x 3.5 inch
Sculpture

$128

Jean-Michel Gnidzaz, Cin-6017-009, Painting

Jean-Michel Gnidzaz

Cin-6017-009, 2017
9.1 x 9.1 x 1.6 inch
Painting

$407

Jean-Michel Gnidzaz, Cin-6017-010, Painting

Jean-Michel Gnidzaz

Cin-6017-010, 2017
9.1 x 9.1 x 1.6 inch
Painting

$407

Jean-Michel Gnidzaz, Cin-6017-007, Painting

Jean-Michel Gnidzaz

Cin-6017-007, 2017
9.1 x 9.1 x 1.6 inch
Painting

$407

Go Segawa, 6 balles colorées, Sculpture

Go Segawa

6 balles colorées, 2004
2.4 x 4.7 x 7.1 inch
Sculpture

$291

Yaacov Agam, Geometric 2 Agam, Print

Yaacov Agam

Geometric 2 Agam, 1975
14.4 x 14.2 x 0.1 inch
Print

$1,849

Carlos Cruz-Diez, Caura-6, Print

Carlos Cruz-Diez

Caura-6, 2015
23.6 x 27.6 inch
Print

$5,234

Jean-Paul Carbonel, Barycentre III, Painting

Jean-Paul Carbonel

Barycentre III, 2011
47.2 x 47.2 x 2 inch
Painting

$4,420

Jean-Paul Carbonel, Faisceau cercles VI, Painting

Jean-Paul Carbonel

Faisceau cercles VI, 2007
33.5 x 49.6 x 2 inch
Painting

$3,373

Jean-Paul Carbonel, Projections II, Painting

Jean-Paul Carbonel

Projections II, 2008
44.1 x 44.1 x 2 inch
Painting

$3,489

Jean-Paul Carbonel, In 3.2, Painting

Jean-Paul Carbonel

In 3.2, 2014
40.2 x 40.2 x 2 inch
Painting

$2,035

Jean-Paul Carbonel, CeH III, Painting

Jean-Paul Carbonel

CeH III, 2014
14.2 x 14.2 x 0.8 inch
Painting

$582

Carlos Cruz-Diez, Olympic Centennial, Print

Carlos Cruz-Diez

Olympic Centennial, 1992
24.8 x 35.4 inch
Print

$1,396

Yaacov Agam, Sparkling Night Rainbow, Print

Yaacov Agam

Sparkling Night Rainbow, 1981
40.5 x 48 inch
Print

$3,500

Carlos Cruz-Diez, Color Aditivo Cantarrana 2, Print

Carlos Cruz-Diez

Color Aditivo Cantarrana 2, 2016
27.6 x 39.4 inch
Print

$15,120

Our recommendations Carlos Cruz-Diez, Color Aditivo Cantarrana 3, Print

Carlos Cruz-Diez

Color Aditivo Cantarrana 3, 2016
27.6 x 39.4 inch
Print

$15,120

Carlos Cruz-Diez, Sitges 4, Print

Carlos Cruz-Diez

Sitges 4, 2012
39.4 x 9.8 inch
Print

$4,071

Jonathan Pradillon, Particule bleue & rouge, Painting

Jonathan Pradillon

Particule bleue & rouge, 2016
7.9 x 7.9 x 0 inch
Painting

$233

Jonathan Pradillon, Particule verdâtre et pourpre, Painting

Jonathan Pradillon

Particule verdâtre et pourpre, 2016
7.9 x 7.9 x 0 inch
Painting

$233

Our recommendations Yaacov Agam, Revolving Kiddush Cup, Sculpture

Yaacov Agam

Revolving Kiddush Cup, 1993
5.9 x 3.1 x 3.1 inch
Sculpture

$1,745

Regina Gimenez, Sunrays 2, Print

Regina Gimenez

Sunrays 2, 2019
39.4 x 27.6 inch
Print

$1,396

Our recommendations Regina Gimenez, Sunrays 3, Print

Regina Gimenez

Sunrays 3, 2019
39.4 x 27.6 inch
Print

$1,396

Our recommendations Jim Bird, Tribute to Vasarely 15, Print

Jim Bird

Tribute to Vasarely 15, 1972
26.8 x 26.8 inch
Print

$291

Jim Bird, Tribute to Vasarely 4, Print

Jim Bird

Tribute to Vasarely 4, 1972
26.8 x 26.8 inch
Print

$291

Jim Bird, Tribute to Vasarely 18, Print

Jim Bird

Tribute to Vasarely 18, 1972
26.8 x 26.8 inch
Print

$291

Frédéric Dégranges, Invisible 12, Drawing

Frédéric Dégranges

Invisible 12, 2018
17.7 x 17.7 inch
Drawing

$3,024

Audrey Stone, Nb. 61, Drawing

Audrey Stone

Nb. 61, 2011
17 x 14 inch
Drawing

$1,713

Philippe Decrauzat, Delay (square to black / 24), Painting

Philippe Decrauzat

Delay (square to black / 24), 2017
56.7 x 56.7 inch
Painting

$39,078

Mel Prest, Sunset Stratus, Painting

Mel Prest

Sunset Stratus, 2016
40 x 32 x 2 inch
Painting

$5,072

Mel Prest, Fog Bank, Painting

Mel Prest

Fog Bank, 2018
12 x 12 x 2 inch
Painting

$1,581

Mel Prest, Maraca, Painting

Mel Prest

Maraca, 2018
12 x 12 x 2 inch
Painting

$1,581

Marcin Kowalik, The 9, Painting

Marcin Kowalik

The 9, 2019
37.4 x 53.1 inch
Painting

$3,838

Maud Vantours, Hexaspirale, Drawing

Maud Vantours

Hexaspirale, 2019
17.7 x 17.7 x 5.1 inch
Drawing

$4,885

Jin Eui Kim, OPject - Inversion IV, Sculpture

Jin Eui Kim

OPject - Inversion IV, 2017
21.3 x 5.1 x 98.4 inch
Sculpture

$10,540

Marcin Kowalik, The 10, Painting

Marcin Kowalik

The 10, 2019
51.2 x 82.7 inch
Painting

$6,280

Pere Moles, Optical Black #1, Print

Pere Moles

Optical Black #1, 2018
27.6 x 19.7 x 0.4 inch
Print

$233

Guilherme Licurgo, Egg, Sao Paulo, Photography

Guilherme Licurgo

Egg, Sao Paulo, 2010
35 x 23 inch
Photography

$2,500

Joe Tilson, Geometry ?, Print

Joe Tilson

Geometry ?, 1965
21.5 x 21.5 inch
Print

$2,500

Leikun Nahusenay, The Protector (mother), Drawing

Leikun Nahusenay

The Protector (mother), 2018
25.6 x 19.7 x 0 inch
Drawing

$1,512

Bakner, Éloge du Mouvement (Rose), Photography

Bakner

Éloge du Mouvement (Rose), 2014
31.5 x 31.5 x 0.2 inch
Photography

$2,931

Bakner, Carré Magique Jaune, Photography

Bakner

Carré Magique Jaune, 2012
31.5 x 31.5 x 0.2 inch
Photography

$2,791

Anne-Sarah Le Meur, Rosebing_07, Print

Anne-Sarah Le Meur

Rosebing_07, 2018
29.9 x 34.6 x 0.2 inch
Print

$2,210

60 Artworks on 74

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