Vasarely’s Op-Art in Hungary

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At the Vasarely Museum in Budapest

Victor Vasarely, one of the most important proponents of Op-art, was born in 1908 in Pécs, a Hungarian small town with a detectable late Roman history and a cute townscape of art deco houses. However, after studying art in Budapest and becoming influenced by the Bauhaus, he soon moved to Paris, where he worked as a graphic designer first, but soon went back into art. His experiments with colours, forms and optical illusions led to the development of op-art, whose pioneer he was. Due to the ideological division of Europe, Vasarely’s art was not exactly appreciated in his home country for many years. In cooperation with his gallery, Denise Rene, Vasarely continuously tried to arrange exhibitions and to support Hungarian abstract artists. Over the years, he donated a number of works to the Hungarian state, and in 1976 Vasarely, by then a world-renowned and highly successful artist, could attend the opening of the Vasarely Museum in his hometown of Pécs. In 1978, i.e. still during the communist era, a second museum in his honour was opened in Budapest.

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Optical illusions

Two interlocked zebras are standing in front of a black-and-white landscape of wavy block stripes. The design, which blurs into dynamic waves slightly irritating the eye, has been remade into a wall hanging several years after its initial conception. In the following rooms, Vasarely’s later, abstract works come to dominate the walls: Squares and triangles in various hues of green, blue or orange swirl through the pictures or follow lines suggesting a vanishing point and a light source in one corner, but whenever the viewer seems to make out a three-dimensional shape or room, another ostensible vanishing point appears, and the whole object and its seemingly three-dimensional world crash.

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At the Vasarely Museum in Pecs

Since we had already visited the huge op-art installations in the Vasarely Foundation in Aix-en-Provence, France, this spring, the two Hungarian museums provided another welcome opportunity to immerse into the scintillating colours and forms.

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You might also like our post about the artists in the provence, van Gogh to Vasarely.

Vasarely Museum Pécs, Káptalan utca: Tue-Sun, 1200 HUF

Vasarely Museum Budapest, Szentélek tér 6: Tue-Sun, 800 HUF

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