Each title from the Basic Art Series provides a comprehensive introduction to a significant artist, architect, or designer. The publications offer a detailed chronological summary of the artist’s life and work and analyse their historical importance and cultural legacy. Readers are taken through the subjects’ biographies and become familiar with key works illustrated in high quality reproductions.
This book explores the makings of an artist ahead of his time. Crisp reproductions and insightful texts celebrate the father of the Op Art movement, from his earliest hypnotising optical illusions to his hallmark checkerboard works.
Hungarian-French painter Victor Vasarely (1906-1997) was a precocious talent. His earliest surviving painting, a landscape done at age 12, baffled through its realism-an indication of the compelling illusions of spatial depth that would later define his dazzling universe. Inspired by the likes of Malevich and the Bauhaus school, Vasarely developed his own abstract-geometric visual language, exploring the relationship between pure form and pure colour.
Vasarely's experimentation with optical effects in the 1940s and '50s earned him a central role in the evolution of Op Art. By the late '50s and early '60s, he concentrated on the "democratisation of art" by producing "multiples"-reasonably priced original works reproduced in large editions. Vasarely's attempt to "destroy the completely obsolete myth of the unique, inimitable masterwork" was a tremendous contribution to art theory.
To him, there was no place for hierarchical division into originals and reproductions, nor for distinction between fine and commercial art-"We cannot leave the enjoyment of art to an elite of connoisseurs forever," he declared. This redefinition of the artist's position and function in society marked a crucial first step in the Pop Art movement. Vasarely's boldly colourful and eye-popping paintings are instantly recognisable and remain entirely modern and relevant today.
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