Victor Vasarely, an Influential Master of Optical Art

The legendary Victor Vasarely is one of our Graphis Art/Illustration Masters who enjoyed a very successful career from the 1930s up until his passing in 1997. He is internationally recognized as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. As a leader of the Op Art movement in the ’60s, he was known for his innovative approach towards color and optical illusion. His work was featured in the Graphis Magazine Issue 122, Issue 153, and Issue 175.

Born in Hungary, Vasarely’s career path actually started at medical school, but after two years, he joined the Podolini-Volkmann Academy in Budapest and later the Bauhaus Muhely Academy. It was here that he received training in painting with geometric shapes such as cubes, rectangles, and circles.

He became fascinated with patterns and started experimenting with abstract paintings and optical art, the latter becoming the signature style that future artists would recognize and that he would become known for. In 1930, Vasarely held his first one-man show at the Kovacs Akos Gallery in Budapest. Soon after, he moved to Paris to continue his pursuit in the arts.

Many of his optical illusions, such as the works above, use color as an important element. Vasarely once said, “Every form is a base for color, every color is the attribute of a form.” He saw form and color as inseparable, which is why many of his works incorporated bold uses of color. The color choice often aids in why we sometimes see motion and 3D figures within these types of artwork.

In the early 1940’s he helped found the Galerie Denise Rene and became a recognized leader of the group of avant-garde artists that were frequently exhibited there. By 1947, Vasarely’s optical images became a part of popular culture, having a great impact on architecture, computer science, fashion, and the way we look at things in general. He ventured into sculpturing towards the end of his career, giving him a new medium to create multi-dimensional optical work. His work will always serve as a significant influence on the art world today.

See more of Victor Vasarely’s impressive work in his Graphis Master Portfolio!

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