Victor Vasarely

Victor Vasarely
Op Art
Victor Vasarely 1906-1997
Op Art
• Victor Vasarely is a Hungarian-French artist
known for being the
“grandfather/creator/inventor” of Op Art
• Op Art is short for optical art or artwork that
creates optical illusions (or plays tricks) on
the eye
• He actually studied to be a doctor before
coming back to creating art
• Vasarely’s art we will focus on today is designed to get the viewer to see the
image in different ways depending on how the viewer interacts with the art
• It was this particular set of artwork that branded the name “Op-Art” and noted
Vasarely as the “inventor” of it
Victor Vasarely
Op Art
• This first piece is Vega-Multi from 1976
• Raise your hand if you think it looks like the
ball is coming towards us
• Raise your hand if you think the area around
the outside of the ball is sinking backward
• This is a perfectly flat painting that Vasarely
designed to make your eye believe that it
has three dimensions
• Notice how bright the colors are in the middle of the picture and how they
fade around the edges
• Victor uses value (lights, mediums, and dark shades of a color to create the
illusions of popping out or receding/going in)
Victor Vasarely
Op Art
Here is Vasarely’s work called Vega-Ball
completed in 1979
Notice how Vasarely used yellow-orange and
purple in his work
Yellow and purple are what we call
complementary colors - Artists use
complementary colors next to each other to
create contrast
Contrast is what makes colors appear to “pop” forward (the yellow-orange pops off of
the page while the purple seems to sink back)
Complementary sets of color look good together and really grab our attention with
their contrast…think about Purple saying, “Oh Yellow you look so bright next to me!”
and Yellow responding, “Thank you, we do make a great complementary pair!”
Victor Vasarely
Op Art
Here’s the color wheel we studied
The complementary colors we will focus
on today are the combinations of:
Notice how these complementary
colors are across from each other on the
color wheel
Where have we seen any of these
complementary colors before?
Bears uniforms
Holiday colors
Lakers uniforms
Victor Vasarely
Op Art
Today we are going to pick one of those color combinations to create our own Op Art piece!
First we are going to choose a ‘popping out’ or ‘going in’ checkerboard sheet – the art team will
be around to show you these options
Next, choose which set of complementary colors you want to use today - red/green,
yellow/purple, blue/orange
Once you have chose which set to use, start shading with a colored pencil the darker color of
your set (blue for blue/orange, purple for purple/yellow, or green for green/red) to make a
checkerboard pattern – watch me demonstrate
As you are shading your checkerboard pattern, use value to create illusion (press hardest in
smallest squares, medium in medium squares, lightest in biggest squares) Medium purple
See how Vasarely did this in Vega-ball?
Light purple
Dark purple
Victor Vasarely
Op Art
Next, cut out the checkerboard with your scissors
Now, we will hand out watercolors for you to shade in the other “half” of your
Use watercolor paint (or stick with colored pencil) to fill in the lighter color of
complement set and continue to shade the bigger boxes lighter, medium boxes
medium, and smaller boxes darker
For watercolors, more water = lighter paint shade, less water = darkest paint shade –
the art team can help you with this as we move around the room
Once you are done with your checkerboards you can do the same process with 1-2
spheres while the art team comes around to help you attach your checkerboard to
your background paper that matches your complement set
After you finish 1-2 spheres, glue the spheres onto the checkerboard in an interesting
pattern (or to hide any little “mistakes”) and have at least one of your spheres coming
off of the checkerboard and partially onto the colored paper - don’t forget to put your
name on your finished work!
Victor Vasarely
Op Art
Let’s review what we learned today:
• Op Art is short for optical art or artwork that creates optical illusions (or plays
tricks) on the eye
• The complementary colors are the combinations of red/green, yellow/purple,
and blue/orange
• Contrast is what makes the dark of your complement pair go back and bright of
the pair pop forward. Complements grab attention (think of football jerseys or
other sports teams, and many advertising logos) because the lighter of the pair
pops out and the darker of the pair goes back into space creating a pleasing
• Value changes (light yellow, medium yellow, dark yellows) are what helps give
the illusion of a sphere popping out or receding in
Victor Vasarely
Op Art
Discussion Questions:
• What is Op Art?
• Name a set of complementary colors
• Can you think of an example of complementary colors used in real life?
• What is value and how does it help make an illusion in art?
• Who is the artist we studied today?
• What we he known for “inventing”?
• What would you name your art piece?
• How does your piece play tricks on your eyes?

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