Victor Vasarely

b. 1908, Pécs, Hungary, d. 1997 Paris, France

Victor Vasarely, regarded as the grandfather of the Op and Kinetic Art movement, began his studies in 1925 as a medical student only to radically take a different direction to pursue an education in Fine Art. He enrolled in the The Bauhaus Muhely Academy, where he was highly influenced by Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee and Josef Albers amongst others.  Vasarely’s early interest in science contributed greatly to his artistic practice: “The two creative expressions of man – art and science – meet again to form an imaginary construct that is in accord with our sensibility and contemporary knowledge.”

The artist moved to Paris in 1930, and like many of his contemporaries, worked as a graphic designer before holding his first solo exhibition marking the opening of Galerie Denise René in 1944.  Between 1950 and 1965, the artist’s Black and White period, Vasarely perfected the depiction of three-dimensional movement on a two-dimensional plane. On the occasion of Le Mouvement (1955) the artist published an excerpt of Manifeste Jaune. This seminal text laid the foundation of Op and Kinetic Art as a continuation of constructivist research by the Bauhaus school. Using technology, Vasarely spearheaded the accessibility of art, removing the concept of the ‘single piece’ by opening the possibility of re-creation, multiplication and expansion of art. This concept would evolve with his theory of Alphabet Plastique, which described an algorithm for visual construction that resulted in an infinite variety of artworks.

Movement (2018) presents the collage Tridim (1968), an infrequent medium in the artist’s oeuvre. The work is strongly connected to the iconic Gestalt series, seen in the large scale acrylic painting Tridim W, Gestalt (1969) at MoMA’s permanent collection. Although the history of the work is unclear, it is likely that it was an experimental work that helped Vasarely construct the almost impossible Gestalt three-dimensional shapes, the word meaning an organised whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts. The paintings are characterised by solid, yet ethereal and seemingly impossible
three-dimensional shapes composed of cubes and cellular like structures. Vasarely makes full use of variations in colour to further the illusion of space, light, movement and structure through the artist’s fascination with the hexagon. Gestalt and the Vega series, where he would warp elements in a grid to create bulging, spherical illusions, are the most iconic examples of the artist work.

Vasarely received many awards including the Guggenheim Prize in New York, 1964; the Grand Prix at the Sao Paulo Biennial, 1965; the Grand Prix de la Gravure in Ljubljana, Slovenia, 1965; and the French Chevalier de l’Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur, 1970. Vasarely’s work is in most major museum collections around the world, including MoMA, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Tate Modern, Centre Georges Pompidou, Stedelijk Museum, and many more. Three museums are solely dedicated to the artist: The Vasarely Foundation Museum, Aix-en-Provence, France;
the Vasarely Museum in Pécs and The Vasarely Museum, Zichy Palace, Budapest, Hungary.

Puerta Roja presented Victor Vasarely in the 2018 exhibtion Movement in collaboration with Galerie Denise René.