Victor Vasarely | i |
last name: Vasarely
first name: Victor
birthday: April 9, 1906
birth-place: Pécs (Hungary)
death date: March 15, 1997
died in: Paris (France)

Vasarely is considered to be the founder of Op-art which, in many of its works, visually resembles works done algorithmically by computers (or the other way around). The exhibition Le Mouvement (The Movement) in 1955 (6 -30 April) at the Galerie Denise René in Paris showed works by artists Yaacov Agam, Paul Bury, Alexander Calder, Marcel Duchamp, Robert Jacobsen, Man Ray, Jesús Rafael Soto, Jean Tinguely, and Vasarely. On this occasion, the latter published his Manifeste Jaune (Yellow Manifesto). Its original title is Notes pour un Manifeste, but it became famous as le Manifeste Jaune. It is contained on two pages in the leaflet-like publication Le Mouvement, issued by the gallery.

Op-art essentially plays with illusionary motion as it appears by changes of the relative positions of the viewer and the image. Such visual kinetics rely on the viewer’s perception who is considered, by Vasarely, the sole creator of the work’s impact.

Much of his later work is in bright colours and simple geometric forms in the tradition of the Bauhaus (triangle, square, circle). Methodically, his constructions are based in combinatorics (permutation, variation). In consequence, he called his work “serial art”.

On 2 March 1959, Vasarely gained a patent for his method of unités plastiques (visual elements). He restricted his repertoire of colours and forms to: three reds, three greens, three blues, two violets, two yellows, black, white, and gray; and three circles, two squares, two rhomboids, two long rectangles, one triangle, two dissected circles, six ellipses. In 1963, Vasarely presented his repertoire to the public under the name of Folklore planetaire.

Given the visual repertoire, he let his works be done by his assistants. The standardization of the elements together with the method of permutation established a firm basis for a purely mechanical realization of more works. This amounts to an algorithmic procedure, even though Vasarely himself never wrote a program. The uniqueness of the work is, of course, questioned, as it is in all algorithmic art. (Vasarely’s son Yvaral (1934-2002) has used computers to a certain extent, since 1975.)

Before moving to Paris in 1930, Vasarely studied for about one year under the artist Sánor Bortnyik at the Mühely Academy in Budapest (a Hungarian equivalent to the German Bauhaus).

Official website:
Also consult the website (do it with care, it contains some errors).

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