Op Art was the artistic movement that involved the use of optical illusion in works

What does Op Art mean?

Op Art is the name given to the artistic movement whose main characteristic is the use of optical illusions.

This movement that emerged in the United States in the 60s, used this type of artifice (optical illusion) to create movements in the works. For this, the artists involved in this aspect made use of prints and graphics to make the art give an impression of movement as the viewer’s eyes roamed the image.

In short, Op Art is the artistic movement that sought a greater possibility of mutability, with the motto: ‘more visualization and less expression’

Op Art origin

The term ‘Op Art’ was first used in ‘Time Magazine’ in the 60’s, serving as a reference for the designation of a new artistic movement.

This aspect had as its main artist Victor Vasarely, who became famous for creating a work in which white and black stripes offered a three-dimensional sensation.

Can be cited as a variation of expressionism, this artistic movement became popular after an American stylist included in his clothes prints inspired by Op Art, more specifically inspired by the works of artist Bridget Riley.

However, after this peak period, Op Art ended up being sidelined. Some experts on the subject claim that this ended up happening because art does not touch people like other movements, but is more related to science than to the admirer himself.

Op art features

As stated above, Op Art seeks to use visual resources in order to develop a kind of optical illusion in the works.

One of the main inspirations for this movement was abstract impressionism, as the main objective of artists was to be able to represent movements from their works.

So, some of the main features are:

  • Works in three dimensions;
  • Use of geometric shapes;
  • Use of colors that cause some kind of contrast, such as: white and black, mainly;
  • Elements of the evolution of science;
  • Less expression and more visualization;
  • I work with lighting, concentric circles and vibrant tones;
  • Constant use of visual resources;
  • Use of images capable of being seen only from certain angles;
  • Optical illusion.

Op art artists

Some of the main artists of this movement are:

  • Alexandre Calder: Also known as Sandy Calder. He was an American painter whose trademark was the use of air and movement in geometric works.
  • Ad Reinhardt: Famous for his minimalist works composed of shades of black.
  • Bridget Riley: English artist who migrated from other movements to Op Art after falling in love with the effect that geometric shapes and lines could have.
  • Kenneth Noland: American artist whose differential was the use of uniform and basic colors in his works.
  • Victor Vasarely: Artist forerunner of this movement. This Hungarian painter became an adept of Op Art in 1930, years before the popularization of art.

Op Art in Brazil

In Brazil, the art was disseminated by the painter and sculptor Luiz Sacilotto .

Early on, Sacilotto sought to represent something figurative in his works, but some time later he evolved into concrete art, being one of the most important artists of Concrete art.

In Op Art, but also in Concrete, Luiz Sacilotto stood out for his concern with demonstrating movements, for optical illusions and for the organization and multiplicity of the geometric shapes of his works.

In addition to Sacilotto, other painters also represented the Op Art movement in Brazil, such as: Israel Pedrosa, Ivan Serpa and Lothar Charoux.

Op art works

Check out some works of this artistic movement.




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