Vasarely, Victor

Victor Vasarely's early interest in abstract art, the Budapest Bauhaus and Russian Constructivism, gave his art a scientific dimension. A founder of optical art, he is today considered a true technician of kinetic art and a visionary leader. Read the biography

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Victor Vasarely (real name Győző Vásárhelyi) was born in Pecs, Hungary, in 1906. After studying at Muhëly, Budapest's prestigious art school, he left Hungary to settle in France in 1930. He worked as a graphic designer for advertising agencies and produced his first major work, Zebrasin the late 30s. Despite a few figurative works, Vasarely is best known for his abstract work, particularly his experiments in kinetic art. Indeed, he began experimenting with abstraction as early as 1952, reducing his painting to a few colors, supported by dynamic lines. In the 60s, he experimented with geometric shapes and color combinations, drawing on new techniques and technologies. His works met with great success at the Responsive Eye in New York in 1965, and is now considered the founder of optical art. Throughout his life, he campaigned for the abandonment of the painting, and envisioned a total art form whose support would be living wall spaces thanks to the optical effects produced. To disseminate his work more widely, he turned to printmaking, mainly exploring the silkscreen process, which allowed him to use bright, bold colors that exuded a strong presence. Vasarely defined his method in several works, such as Plasti-citépublished in 1970. In 1972, together with his son Yvaral, he created an emblematic logo for Renault, which the brand kept for twenty years. Interested in architecture and industry, aspiring to a universal language, he designed the building that served as his foundation in 1976, setting up an exhibition, meeting and research space for artists. Vasarely died on March 15, 1997. Today, he is world-renowned for his works and his vision of art. In 2019, his first major French retrospective will be held at the Centre Pompidou.