As Bridget Riley’s largest retrospective of her work to date is currently held at Hayward Gallery in London, Op Art is suddenly on everyone’s mouth. Op Art is defined as “a form of abstract art that gives the illusion of movement by the precise use of pattern and colour, or in which conflicting patterns emerge and overlap.”
This article showcases 4 artists that made Op Art worldwide famous.
Stanczak was born in 1928 in Poland. After world war 2, Julian moved first to London and then to the United States, in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1954, Stanczak received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Cleveland Insitute of Art. 2 years later, he received his Master of Fine Arts at Yale University.
Stanczak plays a fundamental role in Op Art as the term actual was coined by Time magazine to describe his first major show “Julian Stanczak: Optical Paintings” held at the Martha Jackson Gallery in New York in 1964.
Bridget Riley, born in 1931 in London, is an English painter who is one of the foremost and most influential exponents of Op art since the sixties.
Two artists influenced Riley’s career and artistic vision: Georges Seurat and Victor Vasarely. Her first works had white and black geometric shapes that, through optical illusions, gave the viewer a sensation of movement and colour.
Later in her work, Bridget Riley started to incorporate new shapes and colours in her artworks, reflecting the influence of Egyptian hieroglyphs in pieces that play with opposing colours.
A great example of Riley’s evolution to using colours is “After Rajasthan”. In fact, this artwork is particularly well-known for exploring the concept of motion and movement. Riley spent her childhood at the sea, and many believe the arabesques are a literal expression of that period. A print of “After Rajasthan” is on sale on Feral Horses.
Victor Vasarely was born in Hungary on the 9th of April 1906. Art Critics and experts consider him the “grandfather” of Op Art. In the ’30s, Vasarely became a graphic designer and a poster artist for a ball-bearings company. In 1930 he moved to Paris to work as a graphic artist and creative consultant for various advertising agencies. Eventually, Vasarely went on to produce art using optical illusion and in 1937 he painted “Zebras”, probably the first successful op-art piece in history.
Richard Allen was born in 1933 and grew up in Worcester, United Kingdom. Son of a Farmer, Richard had no art education or interaction until 1954, when he informally attended Worcester College of Art.
However, In 1957, Richard has finally the opportunity to attend the Bath Academy of Art. There, he quickly establishes a strong disposition towards abstraction. 5 years later, Allen starts to work as a teacher at Croydon College of Art, together with Bridget Riley. During his 8 years as a teacher in Croydon, Richard starts working on Op Art paintings. Soon after, he starts and exhibiting his artworks together with Bridget Riley, Michael Kidner and others. By 1974 Allen gained an international reputation and was exhibiting all over the world.
Throughout the years, Allen’s work became increasingly minimalistic and less and less full of optical illusions.