Artist Victor Vasarely was born in 1906 in Hungary, lived much of his life in France, and died in 1997. Today would have been his 104th birthday. He is considered the founder of Op Art, a style which he began developing during his black and white period, from 1950-1965. This period, his most famous, is what will be explored in this project.
In Op Art, also known as optical art, artists used colors, lines and shapes to create the impression of movement. Vasarely’s use of color and shape made some of his paintings appear to jump out from the canvas, like the one above.
- fine black marker (sharpies are great for this)
- printable Circle
- printable Square
- graph paper (optional)
- pencil and eraser (optional)
- straight and curved rulers (optional)
Op Art required a great deal of math and planning. Today, similar results can be achieved using a program like Photoshop. I have provided two printable pages inspired by Vasarely’s Vega painting shown below. It is a perfect example of how pattern and line can create a swelling and warping effect. Print up the pages and have children colour in alternating squares with a black marker until finished. A fine marker will allow you to achieve more precision when outlining the squares. Children will see how making this kind of pattern creates the illusion of movement, and they will truly be amazed at how great it looks, especially from a distance.
Alternatively, have them draw their own patterns using graph paper. Some lines can be straight and made with a ruler, while others will need to be drawn free hand or with a curved ruler. Looking at Op Art paintings will help them understand placement of lines in order to create these sorts of illusions.
Finally, if you wish to make your own designs in Photoshop, do an internet search for ‘graph paper’ and save your selection. Next, open it in Photoshop and under ‘Filter’ select ‘Liquify’. A number of tools will show up for you to try out on your graph paper.
If you would like more information about Vasarely or Op Art, have a look at these links:
Fun book for kids: Optical Designs in Motion
Other important contributors to Op Art:
Josef Albers: http://www.albersfoundation.org/
Bridget Riley: http://www.webexhibits.org/colorart/riley.html
Yaacov Agam: http://www.aejv.com/agam-bio.htm