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Op Art

Bridget Riley
Evoë 3, 2003
Acrylic paint and oil paint on canvas
193.4 x 582 x 5 cm (76.1 x 229.1 x 2 in.)
© Bridget Riley 2020. All rights reserved.
Tate, London

Op art, or optical art, is a global art movement that originated in South America during the 1960s. It features a new type of abstraction that interacts with a viewer's visual comprehension. French-Hungarian artist Victor Vasarely is often referred to as the "grandfather" of the genre, having created mesmerizing paintings as early as the 1930s by combining his knowledge of science, optics and color. The movement gained widespread recognition after the Museum of Modern Art showcased a selection of Vasarely's followers in the influential exhibition, The Responsive Eye, in 1965. This exhibition included works from Richard Anuszkiewic, Bridget Riley, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Jesús Rafael Soto, and Josef Albers, among others.

Op art uses optical illusions to create mesmerizing patterns and colors. Today, artists continue to expand on these investigations, using innovative processes to create captivating works. Carlos Cruz-Diez is one such artist whose practice is rooted in the principles of op art. His work explores the relationship between color and perception, often creating pieces that change in appearance as the viewer moves or the lighting changes. Another op art artist whose practice is similar to Cruz-Diez is Sarah Morris, who creates large-scale geometric abstractions that play with the viewer's perception of space and movement. Julio Le Parc, a key figure in the movement, is also known for his kinetic and interactive installations that engage the viewer through optical illusions and spatial effects.

Op art continues to be influential in the present day, inspiring both artists and neuroscientists to experiment with new techniques and processes in order to expand our understanding of the visual experience through an exploration of lines, forms and colors.

Related categories

Painting

Installation

Canvas

Light/Lightings

Trompe l’oeil

Optical Illusion

Perception

Repetition/Patterns

Color and Form

Reality and Fantasy / Illusion / Imagination

Large Scale Installation/Sculpture

Geometric Abstraction

Dense Composition

Abstraction

20th Century Art

Sensory Experience

Mobility/Movement

Layers

Art of the 1960s

Art after World War II

(Inspired by) Science

Praise for Nature

Science Fiction