Victor Vasarely; Grandfather of Op-Art, Aix

Victor Vasarely was a Hungarian-French artist widely considered the grandfather of Op-Art. He started his education in medical studies, then switched to traditional painting. I can imagine his parents were not thrilled with that choice. Trained in Budapest in the Bauhaus tradition, Vasarely left Hungary in 1930 for Paris where he worked as a graphic artist. He combined his precise technique with a scientific appreciation of optical and geometrical effects to produce art and sculpture with optical illusion. His designs had commercial application as well. In 1972, he and his son Yvaral created a complete revamp of auto manufacturer Renault’s logo, a 3-dimensional metallic logo creating the diamond shape, without, for the first time, the Renault name inside the logo. It remained Renault’s logo for 20 years.

The  Vasarely Foundation building  in Aix en Provence was a joint effort of architects Jean Sonnier, Claude Pradel-Lebar and Victor Vasarely himself. It is constructed of 16 hexagons shaped like honeycomb cells with open glass pyramid ceilings exhibiting 42 pieces approximately 16 1/2 feet wide by just over 26 feet high. The building is a citadel of op-art. I love the ambient light coming through those glass pyramids and the way it lights the large pieces, it does this magnificent art justice.

To show the grand scale of these pieces Amy stands in front of Okta c.1972 part of Cell 8

Vasarely was perhaps the first modern artist to realize that Kinetic Art did not have to move. Instead he created an extraordinary series of paintings and sculptures which used geometrical effects to suggest motion within static forms. Source: Art Story

My favorite smaller piece: “Malom”Acrylic painted wood sculpture, c. 1990

One of 8 cells

Light reflections change with rotation

The Legacy of Victor Vasarely

Although Vasarely was experimenting with the principles of Op Art as far back as the 1930s, widespread recognition of his work in this area only came in 1965, with his inclusion in the hugely influential Op Art exhibition The Responsive Eye (1965), at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Indeed, the term “Op Art” had only been coined the previous year, in a Time magazine article. As well as influencing this newly defined genre, Vasarely’s work filtered through into mainstream popular culture through its reproduction on prints, posters, and fabrics. As a believer in the democratization of art, Vasarely actively supported this mass circulation of his designs, and their hallucinatory effects became synonymous with the spirit of the sixties. (Source:

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