Styles & Periods

Styles & Periods

Optical Art

In the mid-1950s, a type of abstract art called Op, or Optical Art, was born. This style was concerned with the physical and physiological process of seeing. While all visual art is precisely that – visual, Op Art created a new sensation in its viewing in that it was rigidly not figurative, and almost machine-like in its making. It is characterized by its vibrating rhythms and after-images. Op artists utilized the innovations of science and used all new materials and techniques available, including lasers. Patterns are often repeated in the canvases of Op art, setting up secondary optical illusions or surfaces. These pulsing effects were quite popular among the public, but met with harsh words from critics. Fashion designers adopted the schemes of paintings by Bridget Riley and Victor Vasarely in an unprecedented overlapping of commercialism and art. Despite this popularity, Op art has been considered a short-lived and under-resonant tradition within the range of modern art.

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