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Art Movement in Focus: Op Art – An Introduction

Welcome to Art Movement in Focus! In this section, we explore significant art movements in history through a series of articles dedicated to each movement. Here’s looking at Neo-Expressionism.

Op Art – An Introduction

One of the reasons that Op Art is one of the most important movements in art historical terms. Perhaps as it deals with a fundamental aspect of art practice – visual perception. The crux of art is how it is observed optically. It is the first effect that it has thereof. Moreover, with historical developments in understanding human psychology, perceptions of illusion and reality created a lot of interest for artists.

Op Art can be understood through its various components – its colour, composition, and patterns. and by virtue of these – its roots can be traced back to Neo-Impressionism, Cubism and Futurism, Constructivism, and even Dadaism. The term itself was coined by Time Magazine in 1964.

It was particularly with reference to the aspect that Op Art comprised of impression, registered by the human eye. The artwork appears in motion, owing to its geometric composition. It was interesting because it was the perception of optical behaviour that added a different dimension to the work.

The Dialogue

The artistic conversation has always debated that the movement shouldn’t be reduced to the idea of black and white compositions because there were other artists who worked with making colour a primary focus in their works. Artist used high contrast colours to create illusionistic patterns and infuse depth into shapes.

“Op-Art or kinetic abstraction? It is nothing else but introducing the dimension of movement, space, and time into the plastic world. We are still in the two-dimensional world, but the illusion of creating space and movement in micro-time is so strong that it acts as a reality.”

Victor Vasarely

OUR TOP 6 Artists for Op Art:

One of the key aspects was that a variety of media could be used to create Op Art and the essential playful nature that it inspired left a lot of room for experimentation and development. A lot of it could be called Kinetic art for the movement that it seemed to generate. It can be said through a not very long-enduring movement it contributed to modern art significantly, which drew upon the illusionist aspects and left a lasting memory.

  1. Bridget Riley
  2. Jesus Rafael
  3. Victor Vasarely
  4. Philip Taaffe
  5. Julian Stanczak
  6. Richard Anuszkiewicz


Over the years there has been a diminishing in the popularity of the movement – however, it retains its charm amongst collectors and art lovers. The commercial viability of the artworks has allowed the movement to still remain in vogue.

Victor Vasarely
Zebres (Zebras)
1932 – 1942

Zèbres (Zebras) (1932-1942), Victor Vasarely (1906-1997)
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Bridget Riley
Untitled (Fragment 5/8)

Untitled (Fragment 5/8) 1965, Bridget Riley (b.1931)
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Jesus Raphael Soto
Horizontal Movement

Horizontal Movement 1963, Jesus Rafael Soto (1923 – 2005)
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Julian Stanczak
The Duel

The Duel 1963, Julian Stanczak (1928-1917)
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Richard Anuszkiewicz
Diamond Chroma from New York Ten

Diamond Chroma from New York Ten 1965, Richard Anuszkiewicz (1930-2020)
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Philip Taaffe

Cycadaceae 1999, Philip Taaffe (b.1955)
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For more such quick introductions and lists regarding Art History, visit Art Movement in Focus.

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