If you view the picture, you’d see it move, breathe, flash, and vibrate, giving the viewer the feeling of movement. Although the Op art movement was highly publicized in 1964, Eugene Chevreul, a French Chemist, in 1839 had already discovered it and was George Seurat’s, “The Father of Op art,” inspiration who in return inspired Bridget Riley, a renowned painter. However, Op Art’s roots are rooted deep in the year of 1938.
Op Art: The Beginning
Victor Vasarely painted the Zebras in 1938 and created the painting using only black and white stripes. The stripes seemed to explode at you at the same time blend into the background. How did this movement find its way to the United States?
The credit goes to Bauhaus, a German school headed by Walter Groupius. He students learned to focus on the complete design to create unified artwork. However, when the school closed down, the instructors went to the United States, taking the movement along with them.
Op Art: Arrives to the United States
Artists felt intrigued by this form of new art and wanted to explore it further in the hopes of integrating it in society. To their relief, Op art flourished amongst the public who found the geometric designs, the use of colors, and black and white patterns interesting. The Museum of Modern Art celebrated Op art by announcing an exhibition called The Responsive Eye.
The exhibition exhibited Optical art’s perceptual aspects such as the false impression of movement and the interaction of colors. Although the critics were less than impressed by this art form often comparing it with trompe-l’oeil technique, the public relished it. Following are ways the art form tricks the eye:
Artists created effects using line and pattern, painting them with colors black and white (refer to Bridget Riley’s painting Current (1964). While Getulio Alviani created his masterpiece using aluminum surfaces to create patterns that changed color as the viewer moved.
2. Use of Colors
Artists used contrasting colors to create the illusion of movement. For instance, Richard Anuszkiewicz to create his temple paintings used two contrasting colors to create depth and provide the viewer with a psychedelic experience as if the image is protruding out.
3. Interaction of Colors
There are three ways on how colors interact with each other, successive contrast, simultaneous contrast, and reverse contrast. In successive contrast, the viewer sees the first color, and then moves on to the next. In simultaneous contrast, the artist surrounds the first color with a different one. Lastly, in the reverse contrast, the viewer sees the color black and white trying to escape outwards and into the next color.
Can your eyes handle seeing Op art? If you’re ready to see some amazing art take form, be sure to look at the famous paintings of Op art artists mentioned in here.