Vasarely: Sharing Forms at Centre Pompidou

Arny, 1967-68
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Paris' world-renowned Centre Pompidou is holding a retrospective of 20th Century artist Victor Vasarely. Vasarely was one of the founders of Op Art, the art movement known for works with optical illusions at their heart that flourished in the 1960s and 70s. The Pompidou's latest exhibition offers a rare and overdue opportunity to reconsider the artist's radical vision and innovative techniques.

View all of Tim Marlow's February Must-See Exhibitions, including Vasarely: Sharing Forms, here.

Vasarely: Sharing Forms at Centre Pompidou

  • Georges Meguerditchian
    Exterior View, Centre Pompidou
    The Centre Pompidou's world-famous facade features industrial scaffolding and an exterior escalator. Designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers in the 1970s, the building remains iconic and unique to the area.
  • Photo © Fabrice Lepeltier © Adagp, Paris, 2018.
    Zebras-A, 1938
    Chinese ink and oil on paper, 48.7 x 59.8 cm. Private collection, on deposit at the Vasarely Foundation, Aix en Provence.

    This 1938 work has been hugely influential and is now regarded as one of the very first works of Op Art. In it, Vasarely melds the figurative and the abstract, an innovative synthesis of techniques that would shift increasingly toward the abstract in his later work.
  • Photo © Pompidou Center / Philippe Migeat / Dist. NMR-GP © Adagp, Paris, 2018
    Alom, 1968
    Silkscreened papers, cut and glued on plywood, 200 x 200 cm. Nantes Art Museum, Nantes.

    By 1968, Vasarely had settled into a style of painting that would inform most of his oeuvre, one that utilized grids of simple shapes, like squares and circles, which take on their Op Art features when combined with brightly colored gradients. Works such as Alom thus mark the development of Op Art in the 1960s, arguably the heyday of the movement, when artists around the world - Bridget Riley, Jesús Rafael Soto, and Richard Anuszkiewicz - began experimenting with different variations of the technique.
  • Photo © Center Pompidou / Philippe Migeat © Adagp, Paris, 2018
    Arny, 1967-68
    Silkscreened papers, cut and glued on plywood, 252 x 252 cm. National Museum of Modern Art, Center Pompidou, Paris.

    Another such example can be found in Arny which, like Anon, displays many of the iconic stylistic features of Op Art, differing only in the colors, shapes and severity of gradients used. Both paintings achieve the same effect: the rendering of an optical illusion on a flat plane with color, shapes and patterns. Here, Vasarely expands the possibilities of the two dimensional.
  • Picture Øystein Thorvaldsen © Adagp, Paris, 2018
    Vega 222, 1969-1970
    Acrylic on canvas, 200 x 200 cm. Erling Neby Collection, Oslo.
    In Vega 222, Vasarely opts for a far bolder design than in Alom or Arny, which both primarily depicted undulating fields of color. In Vega 222, the work seems to push out toward the viewer, as though one were viewing a hill from a bird's eye view.
  • Photo © Center Pompidou / Philippe Migeat © Adagp, Paris, 2018
    Oerveng Cosmos, 1982
    Silkscreen edited on the occasion of the first manned spaceflight Franco-Soviet Salyut 7, in June 1982, and signed by astronauts Vladimir Djanibekov, Alexei Ivantchenkov, Jean-Loup Chrétien, 46.2 x 28.4 cm Edition 119/500.

    This late work from 1982 demonstrates how Vasarely remained stylistically consistent while also pushing the boundaries of the Op Art innovations he helped to introduce as early as the 1930s. The work is as vibrant and brightly colored as earlier paintings like Vega 222 and Alom. Yet, it departs from their grid-based style, opting instead for rings of circles whose repetition clearly derives from the grid-based work of previous decades.

    View all of Tim Marlow's February Must-See Exhibitions, including Vasarely: Sharing Forms , here .
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