(b. 1906 - d. 1997)
Victor Vasarely (1906-1997) is internationally recognized as one of the most important artists of the 20th century. He is the acknowledged leader of the Op Art movement, and his innovations in color and optical illusion have had a strong influence on many modern artists.
In 1947, Vasarely discovered his place in abstract art. Influenced by his experiences at Breton Beach of Belle Isle, he concluded that "internal geometry" could be seen below the surface of the entire world. He conceived that form and color are inseparable. "Every form is a base for color, every color is the attribute of a form." Forms from nature were thus transposed into purely abstract elements in his paintings. Recognizing the inner geometry of nature, Vasarely wrote, "the ellipsoid form...will slowly, but tenaciously, take hold of the surface, and become its raison d'etre. Henceforth, this ovoid form will signify in all my works of this period, the 'oceanic feeling'...I can no longer admit an inner world and another, an outer world, apart. The within and the without communicate by osmosis, or, one might rather say: the spatial-material universe, energetic-living, feeling-thinking, form a whole, indivisible...The languages of the spirit are but the supervibrations of the great physical nature."
Vasarely was born in Pecs, Hungary in 1906. After receiving his baccalaureate degree in 1925, he began studying art at the Podolini-Volkmann Academy in Budapest. In 1928, he transferred to the Muhely Academy, also known as the Budapest Bauhaus, where he studied with Alexander Bortnijik. At the Academy, he became familiar with the contemporary research in color and optics by Jaohannes Itten, Josef Albers, and the Constructivists Malevich and Kandinsky.
After his first one-man show in 1930, at the Kovacs Akos Gallery in Budapest, Vasarely moved to Paris. For the next thirteen years, he devoted himself to graphic studies. His lifelong fascination with linear patterning led him to draw figurative and abstract patterned subjects, such as his series of harlequins, checkers, tigers, and zebras. During this period, Vasarely also created multi-dimensional works of art by super-imposing patterned layers of cellophane on one another to attain the illusion of depth.
In 1943, Vasarely began to work extensively in oils, creating both abstract and figurative canvases. His first Parisian exhibition was the following year at the Galerie Denise Rene which he helped found. Vasarely became the recognized leader of the avant-garde group of artists affiliated with the gallery.
In 1955, Galerie Denise Rene hosted a major group exhibition in connection with Vasarely's painting experiments with movement. This was the first important exhibition of kinetic art and included works by Yaacov Agam, Pol Bury, Soto, and Jean Tinguely, among others.
During the 1950's, Vasarely wrote a series of manifestos on the use of optical phenomena for artistic purposes. Together with his paintings, these were a significant influence on younger artists. According to the artist, "In the last analysis, the picture-object in pure composition appears to me as the last link in the family 'paintings,' still possessing by its shining beauty, an end in itself. But it is already more than a painting, the forms and colors which compose it are still situated on the plane, but the plastic event which they trigger fuses in front of and in the plane. It is thereby an end, but also a beginning, a kind of launching pad for future achievements."
Shows and Exhibitions
Vasarely's works are included in almost every major museum in the world which has a collection of contemporary art. Major museums in Aix-en Provence, France; Pecs, Hungary; and a wing of the Zichy Palace, Hungary, are devoted exclusively to his work.
- 1930: Galerie Kovacs Akos, Budapest
- 1933: Musee Ernst
- 1944: Galerie Denise René, Paris
- 1946: Galerie Denise René, Paris
- 1949: Galerie Denise René, Paris
- 1950: Galerie Arne Bruun Rasmussen, Copenhague
- 1952: Galerie Denise René, Paris; Galerie Samlaren, Stockholm
- 1955: Palais de Beaux-Arts, Bruxelles; APIAW, Liege
- 1955: Galerie Denise René, Paris
- 1956: Gallerie Blanche, Stockholm; Galerie Der Spiegel, Cologne
- 1958: Galerie Rose Fried, New York; Galleria Del Grattacielo, Milan; Musee National des Beaux-Arts, Buenos Aires; Musee d'Art Modern, Montevideo
- 1959: Galerie Der Spiegel, Cologne; "Tableau Cinetiques"; Galerie Denis Rene, Paris; Musee des Beaux-Arts, Caracas
- 1960: Palais des Beaux-Arts, Bruxelles; Galerie Denise Rene, Paris
- 1961: Galerie Der Spiegel, Cologne, Galleria Lornezelil, Mila; Galerie Le Point Cardinal, Paris; "Collages et Oevres Recentes," Galerei Artek, Helsinki; World House Galleries, New York; Hanover-Gallery, London
- 1962: Galerie Kaare Berntsen, Oslo; The Pace Gallery, Boston; Galerie Le Point Cardinal, Paris; Galerie Artx, Helsinki.
- 1963: Taft Museum, Cincinatti; "L'Unite Plastique," Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Palais du Louvre, Pavillon de Marsan, Paris; Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hanovre.
- 1964: Conference Vasarely, "Vasarely et l'Art Social," Academie des Beaux-Arts, Paris; Kunsthall, Desseldorf,; The Pace Gallery, New York; Le Point Cardinal, Paris; Kunsthalle, Berne; Kestner-Gesellshaft, Hanovre.
- 1965: Hanover Gallery, London; Galerie Deposito, Genoa; Pace Gallery, New York; Handshin Gallery, Basle; Muller Gallery, Stuttgart
- 1966: Sidney Janis Gallery, New York; Hayden Gallery, Massachussetts Institue of Technology; Brook Street Gallery, London; Denise Rene Gallery, Paris; "Exposition de l'oevre multipliable de Vasarely<" denise rene gallery, paris; aktuell gallery, berne; der spiegel gallery, cologne
- 1967: Tapisteries recentes, Museum of Decorative Arts, Louvre, Marsan Pavillion; "Multiples", Denise Rene Gallery, Paris; De Cordova Museum, Lincoln, Massachussetts; Speed Art Museum, Louisvill, Kentucky; University of Minnessota, Minneapolis; Reece Memorial Museum, Easte Tennessee State; Johnson City College, Tennessee; Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Utica, New York; Fine Arts Gallery, University of Colorado, Boulder Colorado; Contemporary Arts Association of Houston, Houston, Contemporary Arts Association of Houston, Houston, Texas; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Galerie Hans Mayer, Esslingen.
- 1968: "Vasarely", Sidney Janis Gallery, New York; Galerie Pryzmat, Cracovie, Poland; Galerija Suvremene, Zagreb; "Lithographies, Multiples, Originaux", Galerie DelLeone, Venise; "Vasarely-Est", Feszek Klub, Budapest
- 1969: Cultural Center, Neuchatel; Rene Metras Gallery, Barcelona; Gimpel et Hanover Gallery, Zurich; "Editions Originales de Vasarely", Fine Arts Museum, Pecs; Engelberts Gallery, Geneva; "Folklore Planetaire", Denis Rene Gallery, Paris; Sidney Janis Gallery, New York; Vasarely Retrospective", Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest
- 1970: "Polychromies Multidimesionnelles", Denise Rene Gallery, Paris; Participation No. 1", Knoll International, Paris; Offical inauguration of the permanent exhibition of the work of Vasarely at the Musee Didactique, Chateau de Gordes, "Vasarely", film, Museum of Modern Art, Paris; "Kanta et Iboua", Vision Nouvell, Paris; "From Renoir to Vasarely", Autumn Salon, Grand-Palais, Paris.
- 1971: "Reliefs, Multiples, Serigraphics", Susanne Egloff Gallery, Basle; "Collage", Denise Rene Gallery, Paris; "Vasarely in Retrospective", Stattford art Associatoin, Ottawa; Kunsthalle, Cologne; Chateau de Vasoueil; "Ouevres Originales et Grapchiques", Minami Gallery, Tokyo; "Presentation de l'album Gordes," Denis Rene Gallery, Paris
- 1972: "Vasarely Retrospective" presented by Rothman-Pall-Mall Company; Traveling exhibition: Glenbow Alberta Art Gallery, Calgary; Mendel Art Gellery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; The Edmonton Art Gallery, Edmonton, Vancouver; The Winnepeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, Manitoba; "Vasarely-Duo exhibiton recent works", Sidney Janis Gallery; Denise Rene Gallery, New York; Vasarely 1948-1958", Charles Kriwin Gallery, Brussels; "Exposition de serigraphies et de multiples", Philadelphia Art Museum; Inauguration of the monumental facade of the new RTL Building; Ludwigshafenam-Rehin Museum; Galerie Rivolta, Lausanne; Durr Gellery, Munich; Basle Fair; Abrams Gallery, Amsterdam; Ill Castello Gallery, Milan; Frankfurt Fair; Dusseldorf Fair; Semiha Huber Gallery, Zurich; Schottenring Gallery, Vienna
- 1973: Moos Gallery Toronto, Canada; Veranneman Gallery, Brussels; Phillippe Reichenbach Gallery, Paris; Presentation of the "Octal" Album by Vasarely and Michel Butor, Denise Rene Gallery, Paris; "Des Ouevres de 1948 a 1973", Denis Rene Gallery, Paris; Moser Gallery, Graz, Austria; Mexico Modern Art Museum; The Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg
- 1974: Semiha Huber Gallery, Zurich; Calleria Annunciata, Milan; Minami Gallery, Tokyo; Heller Gallery, London; M-L Jeanneret Gallery, Geneva,; Galleria d'Arte "La Borgognona", Rome
- 1975: Cultural Centre, Modena, Italy; Theo Gallery, Madrid; Bel'Art Gallery, Stockholm; Musee du Bastion Saint-Andre, Ramparts, Antibes; Tehran Gallery, Iran
- 1976: Tel-Aviv Museum; Kunstmuseum, Dusseldorf; Denis Rene Gallery, Paris
- 1977: Postal Museum, exhibition to celebrate the launch of a stamp created by Vasarely; Kultur Forum Bonn; Mathilde Gallery, Amsterdam; Bel'Art Gallery, Stockholm; Nordenhake Gallery, Malmo, Sweden; Caracas Contemporary Art Museum, exhibition opened by the President of the Republic of Venezuela, Mr. Carlos Perez
- 1978: Inaguration of the Vasarely Center in New York; Modern Art Museum, Monchenhaus Museum, Goslar, Germany; Exhibition of Aubusson tapestries at Palm Springs Desert Museum, California
- 1979 "The Optic Art of Vasarely", Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, Arizona; "Vasarely- Yvaral", Villeparisis Cultural Center; "La Couleru Eternell dans l'architecture traditionelle", Foundation Vasaerly, Aix-en-Provence; Exhibition Vasarely, Chateau de Sediers, Correze.
- 1980: Royal Palace Gallery, Budapest; "Vom Bauhaus zur fondation", "Badishces Landesmususeum", Karlsruhe Castle, Germany; "The Art Of Victor Vasarely", "Midland Center of Arts", Midland, Michigan; "Hommage a Vasarely", Town Hall Montelimar
- 1982: "Vasarely's Vision", Vasarely Center, new York; "Kultur im Schlossel", Aktion Museum , Mistelbach, Austria; Permanent Exhibition of the entire bequest to set up a Vasarely museum in Budapest, Fine Arts Museum, Budapest; Victor Vasarely "Special Exhibit", Vasarely Center, New York
- 1984: "Vasarely Retrospective", Villeurbanne Town Hall; Leinfelden Echterdingen Town Hall, Germany; "Artcurial", Munich and Dusseldorf
- 1985: Exhibiton of nuclear power station models, Papal Palace Avignon; "Vasarely", Galerija S. Dubrovnik, Sombor Yugoslavia; Galerie der Stadt Esslingen am Neckar, Germany
- 1986: "Vasarely", National Museum of Fine Arts, Algiers; "Victor Vasarely" Pictures and Graphics 1930-1985, Kunstreis Sudliche Vergstrasse; Kraichgau, Germany Heimatmuseum Gablitzhalle Circle Gallery, New York, Chicago
- 1987: "Victor Vasarely" Okresne Museum, Prague; Kulturhaus, Berlin; Town Hall, Paris, Monaco under the partronage of HSH Carline of Monaco; "Vasarely", Esterhazy Castle, Eisenstadt , Austria; Romanbischer Keller, Salzburg; Bodenshchatz Gallery, Basle; Basle Fair; Fellbach Town Hall, Germany; Cultural Center ALgiers and Oran; Kulturhause, Knittelfeld, Germany; Artcurial, Munich; Innsbruck Gallery, Austria; Savjet Muzejsko, Galerijksog Centra, Zagreb, Yugoslavia,; "Les annees 50", Lahumiere Gallery, Paris; Circle Gallery, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Denver, Scottsdale, Washington; "Fine Arts Museum, Neuchatel; Vasarely Tapestries, Chateau de Vellemontreix, Creuse; Augustiner Gallery, Nuremberg, Germany; Kunsthaus Frenzel, Ulm, Germany
- 1992: Retrospective, Kunstforum Vienna, Austria; "Le Mouvement", Fondation Maeght, St-Paul-de-Vence
- 1993: Retrospective, Center Noirot, Arras; Travelling Retrospective in Japan, Mitsukoshi Museum, Tokyo; Iwaki Municipal Museum, Fukushima; Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art, Obihiro; Hokkaido Departmental Museum, Obihoro; Itami Municipal Museum, Hyogo; Kure City Museum, Horoshima
- 1994: Museum of Fine Arts, Charleroi