Victor Vasarely: Artist Portrait

Victor Vasarely

Born 1906. Died 1997.

Victor Vasarely Biography

Born in Hungary in 1908 as Vásárely Gyözö, Victor Vasarely 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 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 Honour in 1970. Prior to his death on 15 March 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; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, among others.

The iconic nature of his work has led to promising valuations; according to Sotheby’s Mei Moses, the average compound annual return for Victor Vasarely is 5.2%, with 76.4% of works increasing in value.

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Museums with Works by Victor Vasarely

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Artist Image: © The Estate of Victor Vasarely / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris 2018