1.7.2.1 Op Art B (1964-1970)

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QUICK LINKS:
Zebra, Vasarely
Study for Graphic Tectonis (Ascension), Albers
Movement in Square, Riley
Knowledge and Disappearance, Anuszkiewicz
Fission, Riley
Blaze, Riley

Untitled, Anuszkiewicz
Modern Times II, DeLap
Vega-Noir, Vasarely
Vonal Stri, Vasarely
Homage to the Square: Protected Blue, Albers

Artists have been intrigued by the nature of perception and by optical effects and illusions for many centuries. They have often been a central concern of art, just as much as themes drawn from history or literature.

But in the 1950s these preoccupations, allied to new interests in technology and psychology, blossomed into a movement. Op, or Optical, art typically employs abstract patterns composed with a stark contrast of foreground and background – often in black and white for maximum contrast – to produce effects that confuse and excite the eye.

Initially, Op shared the field with Kinetic Art – Op artists being drawn to virtual movement, Kinetic artists attracted by the possibility of real motion. Both styles were launched with Le Mouvement, a group exhibition at Galerie Denise Rene in 1955. It attracted a wide international following, and after it was celebrated with a survey exhibition in 1965, The Responsive Eye, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, it caught the public’s imagination and led to a craze for Op designs in fashion and the media.

To many, it seemed the perfect style for an age defined by the onward march of science, by advances in computing, aerospace, and television. But art critics were never so supportive of it, attacking its effects as gimmicks, and today it remains tainted by those dismissals.

[Source: theartstory.org]

[1721-10]


Image source: wikiart.org
Vasarely delivered one of the most important pieces of his career when he created Zebra, a painting inscribed in Op-art movement. The first version of this artwork had been made 30 years before the Op-art concept was conceived; however, it is considered to be a part of this movement.
This is considered by many to be the first Op Art painting. Vasarely has placed two zebras intertwined on a black background,. There is no outline, just the alternating black and white stripes. It therefore leaves the observer considering what is real and what abstract.
[Source: wikiart.org]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Zebra1937Acryl/CnvAnimal Painting/ Abstract
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Vasarely, Victor1906-1997, aged 90Hungarian-FrenchOp Art/Abstract
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1721-16]

Georges Pompidou Centre, Paris52 x 60  
Albers’ abstract canvases employed rigid geometric compositions in order to emphasise the optical effects set off by his chosen colour palettes. Albers was highly influential as a teacher, first at the Bauhaus in Germany alongside Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee, and later with posts at Yale, and Harvard. He taught courses in design and colour theory, among his students were Eva Hesse, Cy Twombly, Richard Anuszkiewicz, and Robert Rauschenberg. He is often cited as a progenitor of Minimalist, Conceptual, and Op art.
[Source: artsy.net]

Image source: artsy.net
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Study for Graphic Tectonic (Ascension)1941Ink/Graphite/paperAbstract
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Albers. Josef1888-1976, aged 87German-American artist/educatorOp Art
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1721-11]

56 x 44

Image source: artsandculture.google.com
Riley, an English painter, explained that she was seeking purity in the abstract form, She was drawing squares and things began to change. The twelve rows of alternating black and white squares, maintain the same height, but the width is changing to create an optical illusion, a sense of movement. This led her to further investigation of various geometric shapes.

Bridget Riley credits this work from 1961, Movement in Squares, as the beginning of her exploration of geometric form and spatial dynamics. Its rhythm subtly evokes a meeting of two forms, a kiss or a folding of two flat planes into a vanishing line of contact. The repeated squares, gradually compressed give a restless impression of movement, and refuse to let the eye settle.
[Source: artsandculture.google.com]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Movement in Squares1961Tmpa/BdAbstract
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Riley, Bridget1931 – English painterOp Art
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1721-17]

British Council Collection 123 x 121  
Knowledge and Disappearance is a large square painting, that pulls the viewer into a space that seems alive with movement.

Rectangles of warm red and cool gray alternate between figure or ground somewhat in the style of Vasarely’s contemporaneous work, seeming to recede into the distance of a central square through the use of linear perspective. The rectangles in the central square are much smaller near its edges, creating a sense of a convex, pulsating far surface, like the chamber of a heart.

Anuszkiewicz’s two-dimensional art often creates this sense of living physical presence, even causing visual discomfort or disturbance in the process.

Knowledge and Disappearance was one of five paintings of Anuszkiewicz’s included in the MoMA exhibition The Americans in 1963, along with Fluorescent Complement.

In the catalogue for the show, Anuszkiewicz explained his art using scientific terminology in line with the rationalist, post-Constructivist principles of Op Art and Kinetic Art: [m]y work is of an experimental nature and has centered on an investigation into the effects of complementary colours of full intensity when juxtaposed and the optical changes that occur as a result. Also, a study of the dynamic effect of the whole under changing conditions of light, and the effect of light on colour.

This motivation has, with subtle changes, continued to drive Anuszkiewicz throughout his career.
[Source: theartstory.org]

Image source: pinterest.com
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Knowledge and Disappearance1961Oil/CanvasAbstract
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Anuszkiewicz, Richard1933-2020, aged 86Amercian painter/sculptorOp Art/Kinetic Art
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1721-12]

Philadelphia Museum of Art127 x 127
Continuing her journey [above] Riley distorted the black dots at this painting’s centre. This again creates an optical illusion, a sense that the image surface is caving in, a suggestion that the viewer could be swallowed into it. The distortion is not unlike the illusion created by the traditional linear perspective. Riley was seeking to establish a new form of relationship between the viewer and her work.
[Source: moma.org]

Image source: wikiart.org
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Fission1962Tmpa/BdAbstract
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Riley, Bridget1931 – English painterOp Art
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1721-13]

MOMA, Museum of Modern Art, 11 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019, USA89 x 86  

Image source: nationalgalleries.org
It was the set of five ‘Blaze’ paintings that achieved international recognition for Riley. It appears to be a spiral, but Blaze 1 is formed from a succession of concentric circles. Where the ‘zigs’ of one circle meet the ‘zags’ of the next, it forms chevrons and the composition appears to rotate.
[Source: nationalgalleries.org]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Blaze 1 (of 5)1964Emulsion/HardboardAbstract
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Riley, Bridget1931 – English painterOp Art
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1721-18]

National Galleries Scotland109 x 109  
Anuszkiewicz was one of the founders and foremost exponents of Op Art. Victor Vasarely in France and Bridget Riley in England were his primary international counterparts. In 1964, Life magazine called Anuszkiewicz ‘one of the new wizards of Op’.
[Source: Wikimedia commons]
Image source: tate.org.uk
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Untitled19650Abstract
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Anuszkiewicz, Richard1930-2020, aged 90Amercian painterOp Art
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1721-19]

Tate Galleries62 x 62

Image source: tate.org.uk
Like several of DeLap’s other sculptures of this period, this work is anaxial, that is to say without any sense of top or bottom, front or back, or sides.

It can not only be placed in four different positions, but combined with one or more other pieces to form a more complex unit in which the positions of each part can be varied at will. As John Coplans has written: Thus he has set up a complex situation with infinite variables somewhat similar to that of musical compositions by Cage or Stockhausen.
[Source: tate.org.uk]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Modern Times II1968Acrylic/Plastic/LaquerSculpture
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
DeLap, Tony1932-American painterPhoto Realism
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1721-14]

Tate Galleries36 x 61 x 32
There was a series of Vega paintings, the artist created in which an orderly grid seemingly swells and protrudes off the picture plane. They represent some of the most advanced applications of Vasarely’s systematic approach to form and colour.

Victor Vasarely was at the core of the movement, earning him the nickname Father of Op Art’.

Vega-Nor uses warm colours, like orange and yellow, typically appear to advance in space, which is why Vasarely chose these hues for the area surrounding the central squares. The cells become progressively thinner and smaller toward the edges of the canvas, as if they are receding into space.

This work takes its title from Vega, one of the brightest stars in the night sky, and Vasarely explained, this composition expresses the extension, the expansion of the Universe: the extreme of the great infinities of Nature.
[Source: albrightknox.org]

Image source: wikiart.org
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Vega-Nor1969Acrylic/CanvasAbstract
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Vasarely, Victor1906-1997, aged 90Hungarian-FrenchOp Art/Abstract
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1721-15]

Albright–Knox Art Gallery, 612 Northland Avenue, Buffalo, New York 14211 USA200 x 200 


Image source: wikiart.org
Vasarely developed his ‘Vonal’ series out of his earlier line studies and graphic work but this time making full use of colour.

Depth is created by the use of lines of decreasing scale advancing towards the centre so that the further we look into the centre, the further away the field appears to be. The changing colours also serve to create an impression of space and movement.

Through precise combinations of lines, geometric shapes, colours, and shading, he created eye-popping paintings, full of the illusion of depth, movement, and three-dimensionality. More than pleasing tricks for the eye, Vasarely insisted, pure form and pure colour can signify the world.
[Source: artsy.net]
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Vonal Stri1975Acryl/CnvAbstract
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Vasarely, Victor1906-1997, aged 90Hungarian-FrenchOp Art/Abstract
LOCATION:SIZE (cms): [1721-20]

200 x 200
Josef Albers is best known for his seminal ‘Homage to the Square’ series of the 1950s and ’60s. This focused on the simplification of form and the interplay of shape and colour.

Albers said, Abstraction is real, probably more real than nature,” he once said. “I prefer to see with closed eyes.

This image shows Protected Blue from the series.
[Source: artsy.net]

Image source: artsy.net
TITLE:YEAR:FORM:GENRE:
Homage to the Square: Protected Blue1977Screenprint in brilliant colours on strong double-folded woven paper Abstract
ARTIST:DATES:ORIGIN:MOVEMENT:
Albers. Josef1888-1976, aged 87German-American artist/educatorOp Art
LOCATION:SIZE (cms):
23 x 23

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