Victor Vasarely:April 9,1906-March 15, 1997...Hungary /France
“In our modern society of consumption everything is multiplied, from
cars and refrigerators to country homes. One unique piece of art is an anachronism.”
Victor Vasarely is one of the largely unrecognized greats of the Geometric
Abstraction stream. As the leader of the Op Art movement, he is one of the most important contemporary artists. He began his
upper education studying medicine at the University of Budapest. After two years of study he gives it up to study painting
at the Podolini-Volkmann Academy in Budapest for two years before moving on to the Mühely Academy under Alexander
(Sándor) Bortnyik. The Mühely Academy was modeled after the Bauhaus
in Germany. The Bauhaus tradition was responsible for revolutionizing the art and design of its time. There, he focused on
graphic design and typography. By 1930, Vasarely was on his way to Paris, France, where he worked as a graphic artist. It
was there that he began to put his interests in perspective and optical effects to the test in a series of optical experiments.
His experiments in color and optics were supported by other artists that had similar conclusions. Artists like Wassily
Kandinsky, Josef Albers, Kasimir Malevich, and Jaohannes
Itten. Among other things, these tests confirm that warm color advance and cool color recede. Knowledge that would
influence much of his later works.
Vasarely decided in 1946 that he would focus on his geometric abstract art.
Still working in black and white, he began to work to a large extent in oils in 1943. In 1951 he founds Op Art: artworks that
center on an optical effect or illusion. These effects were enhanced through varying color relationships and the geometric
designs that created patterns. Through his Op Artworks, he wanted to evoke emotion through art. "Every
form is a base for color, every color is the attribute of a form." All using mathematics and geometry. Through his
art, he received numerous awards and honors, as well as being featured in a great number of exhibitions. But at what cost?
Artists make works to sell, so they can afford to sustain their lives and support their families. Most artist spend many hours
creating a work but Vasarely was a bit unique. He came up with a new idea. How many people can afford to but a large work
of art for thousands of dollars? Well, not too many average people. In the 1950s and 60s, he was getting around fourteen thousand
dollars for a large painting…His idea: why not make less expensive prints that could be signed and thus making his art
more affordable to the common person. Again, in the 1950s and 60s, that resulted in selling a print for seventy to a thousand
dollars, depending on the size. If his art was owned by more people, it would make his name more recognized as well, and thus
making his larger works more valuable. Win for the buyer (who‘s art investment is worth more money), win for the artist
(who is earning more), and win for the common person (who now had access to great art). "The art of tomorrow
will be a collective treasure or it will not be art at all." His economically priced works is a trend that is common
with artist today. By 1976 he opened the Vasarely Foundation in France. It was even inaugurated by French president, and lover
of the modern arts, Georges Pompidou. Soon after opened the Vasarely Museum in his hometown of Pécs, Hungary in 1978. A second
Hungarian Vasarely museum opened in 1987. This one was in Budapest and had over four-hundred works. Victor Vasarely died in
his adopted country, France in 1997.