Op Art - A twentieth century art movement and style in which artists sought to create an impression of movement on the picture surface by means of optical illusion. It is derived from, and is also known as Optical Art and Perceptual Abstraction. In the 1960s art world, some critics faulted Op Art's persistent involvement with optical illusion at a time when "the flatness of the picture plane" was the mantra on either side of the Color Field - Minimalist aisle. Clement Greenberg saw flatness as painting's essence. Donald Judd saw it as an escape route into three dimensions.
Examples of Op Art:
Maurits Cornelis Escher (Dutch, 1898-1972), Balcony, 1945, lithograph, 11 3/4 x 9 1/4 inches (29.7 x 23.4 cm), National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. In the center of this picture of a hillside town, Escher said he tried to break up the paper's flatness by "pretend[ing] to give it a blow with my fist at the back, but . . . the paper remains flat, and I have only created the illusion of an illusion."
Maurits Cornelis Escher, Up and Down, 1947, lithograph, 19 3/4 x 8 1/8 inches (50.3 x 20.5 cm).
Maurits Cornelis Escher, Drawing Hands, 1948, lithograph, 11 1/8 x 13 1/8 inches (282 x 332 mm).
Maurits Cornelis Escher, Relativity, 1953, lithograph, 11 1/8 x 11 5/8 inches (282 x 294 mm), National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. Here three worlds, each with their own gravitational forces exist simultaneously, operating perpendicularly to one other.
Maurits Cornelis Escher, Convex and Concave, 1955, lithograph. See convex and concave.
Maurits Cornelis Escher, Belvedere, 1958, lithograph, 8 1/4 x 11 5/8 inches (462 x 295 mm), National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. This belvedere has three stories, but its drawing results in an optical illusion. Escher has employed a hybrid of linear perspective that produces a mixture of two possibilities. Note how the pillars connect the second to the third story.
Maurits Cornelis Escher, Waterfall, 1961, lithograph,15 x 11 3/4 inches (380 x 300 mm).
Victor Vasarely (French, born Hungary, 1908-1997), Basilan II, 1951-1958, acrylic paint, 60 cm x 65 cm, Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Iran. Vasarel's geometric paintings of the 1950s moved gradually toward optical art.
Victor Vasarely, OB-NEG, 1955, oil on canvas, 140 cm x 220 cm, Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Iran.
Victor Vasarely, Quasar-Fugue, 1966-1973, oil on canvas, 150.5 x 150.5 cm, Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Iran.
Victor Vasarely, unidentified op art image, black and white.
Victor Vasarely, Blue-Black.
Victor Vasarely, Blue / Red, 1983, silkscreen, from an edition of 267, 23 x 23 inches (58.5 x 58.5 cm.
Victor Vasarely, Zebra, 1987, silkscreen, from an edition of 200, sheet: 50 x 45 cm, print 38.5 x 35.4 cm.
Ad Reinhardt (American, 1913-1967), Black Painting No. 34, 1964, oil on canvas, 60 1/4 x 60 1/8 inches (1.530 x 1.526 m), National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. See Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism.
Yaacov Agam (Israeli, 1928-), The Ninth Power, 1970-71, stainless steel, 70 3/4 x 70 x 70 inches, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY. See Jewish art.
Bridget Riley (British, 1931-), Intake.
Bridget Riley, Cataract.
Bridget Riley, June, 1992, silkscreen, edition of 75, 80 x 114.3 cms (31 1/2 x 45 inches).
Also see optical illusion, Pop Art, tessellation, and trompe l'oeil.