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Biography

Victor Vasarely (b. 1906, Pécs, Hungary; d. 1997, Paris, France) is widely considered the originator of Op art, a style based on optical illusion. Beginning his career in Paris in 1930 at several advertising agencies to support his work in the graphic arts, he would begin to develop his fully abstract signature style after the success of his first solo show in 1944. Influenced greatly by geometric abstractionists such as Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian, Vasarely mastered the use of optical effects and illusion through color and geometric shape. In his important 'Homage to Malevich' series (1952–58), Vasarely adopted Malevich’s Supermatist black square and used it as a foundation from which to construct vibrant optical effects. Much of his work has also been in response to modern technological progress, as the artist often based his abstractions on mathematical calculations and scientific theories; he considered his work to have a direct, visually perceptible correlation to energy, space, matter, movement and time. Although he was an early participant in Kinetic art, creating a number of moveable sculpture pieces, it was the influential exhibition 'The Responsive Eye,' held at The Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1965 that solidified his significance as an Op artist.

 

Later in his career Vasarely won numerous awards and prizes, including the Guggenheim Prize in New York in 1964 and membership to the French Legion of Honor in 1970. Prior to his death in 1997, he founded a number of museums dedicated to his own work across Europe, and his work can be found in The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges  Pompidou, Paris; and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, among others.

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