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Victor Vasarely

(1906 - 1997)

Considered the father of the Op Art, Victor Vasarely was born on April 9th, 1908 in Pécs, Hungary.  Internationally recognized as one of the most important artists of the 20th century, his innovations in color and optical illusion have had a strong influence on many modern artists. Spanning most of his career, our collection of his prints and sculptures explores his forays into some of his most famous works such as the plastic alphabet and other iconic periods. In 1925, Vasarely was accepted into the University of Budapest’s School of Medicine where he attended for 2 years. Deciding that he wanted to take his life in a different direction, he enrolled in the Poldini-Volkman Academy of Painting in 1927. Though a medical education might have seemed superfluous compared to his new career in art, the time that Vasarely spent in medical school gave him a strong basis in scientific method and objectivity. This basis continued to manifest in his unique style of art. After his first one-man show in 1930, at the Kovacs Akos Gallery in Budapest, Vasarely moved to Paris. For the next thirteen years, he devoted himself to graphic studies. His lifelong fascination with linear patterning led him to draw figurative and abstract patterned subjects, such as his series of harlequins, checkers, tigers, and zebras. During this period, Vasarely also created multi-dimensional works of art by super-imposing patterned layers of cellophane on one another to attain the illusion of depth. Around 1947, Vasarely discovered his place in abstract art. Influenced by his experiences at Breton Beach of Belle Isle, he concluded that “internal geometry” could be seen below the surface of the entire world. He conceived that form and color were inseparable. “Every form is a base for color, every color is the attribute of a form.” Forms from nature were thus transposed into purely abstract elements in his paintings. Already an established and recognized avant-garde artist,  Galerie Denise Rene hosted a major group exhibition in connection with Vasarely’s painting experiments with movement. This was the first important exhibition of kinetic art and included works by Yaacov Agam, Pol Bury, Soto, and Jean Tinguely, among others. During the 1950’s, Vasarely wrote a series of manifestos on the use of optical phenomena for artistic purposes. Together with his paintings and prints, these were a significant influence on younger artists. According to the artist, “In the last analysis, the picture-object in pure composition appears to me as the last link in the family ‘paintings,’ still possessing by its shining beauty, an end in itself. But it is already more than a painting, the forms and colors which compose it are still situated on the plane, but the plastic event which they trigger fuses in front of and in the plane. It is thereby an end, but also a beginning, a kind of launching pad for future achievements.”

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