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Vega III by Victor Vasarely

Today we look at Vega III by Victor Vasarely, for Artwork in Focus. Join me Divvya Nirula as I explore and present my experience of the selected artwork.

Artwork in Focus

Title: Vega III
Artist : Victor Vasarely
Year : 1957-59
Medium : oil on canvas
Dimensions : 51 1/8 x 76 5/8 x 1 3/4 inches (130 x 194.7 x 4.4 cm)
Location : Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

Victor-Vasarely_Vega-III-1999_Artwork-in-Focus_Divvya-Nirula
Vega III, 1999 by Victor Vasarely
image courtesy : Guggenheim Museum

Vega III

Vega III easily identifies with the classic features of the Op Art movement and more specifically the work of Vasarely. As we look at this work we are immediately dizzy, moving and moved. Victor showcases that here that he is a master of creating iconic visual effects. It is so immediate this sense of movement that in stillness Vasarely ensures to trick our mind through our eyes. And this trick is one we as viewers not only enjoy, but look forward to.

The distorted chequerboard pattern, create illusions of concave and convex shapes within the image surface itself. Also, Vega III is representative of the technical perfection that is synonymous with this artist. The stretched linear grid, the movement and depth are vital for us as viewer, but also became vital aspects that established the tenets of Op Art.

The Importance of the work

This particular piece was important because through it, Vasarely was able to showcase his style where he was approximating the kinetic style, but on a static two-dimensional canvas. The influences of Alexander Calder and Naum Gabo, are clearly visible. The rotating mobiles of Calder and the revolving/vibrating sculptures of Gabo, through Kinetic Art had paved the way towards the portrayal of the passage of time and the element of space. Under these conditions, a Kinetic work which was immobile was an ingenious statement!

More popularly and academically, Vega III was clearly an enactment of Vasarely’s ideas from his Yellow Manifesto. For him “visual kinetics”, was inspired by Constructivism and the Bauhaus which used optical illusions to grab attention and kept it firmly on the active action of viewing itself. This was a departure from previous movements in execution and style.

“Already in 1935 my graphic studies featured the first vibratory effects. However, I started consciously pursuing kinetic effects only around 1950. In the following years I have created those black and white, positive-negative works, that today become world fashion known as OP-ART i.e. optic art.”

Victor Vasarely

Other Details

During the period of 1950s-60s in different fields there was an exploration of the idea of inclusivity for the viewer. And it was a work like Vega III that could effortlessly pull the viewer in, simply by its own virtue. The renowned art historian József Sárkány, had commented that an artwork such as this “always give rise to new paintings”.

Vasarely’s work was truly pioneering when the century was moving towards the blurring of boundaries and his relevance in the age of social media, makes him all the more relevant.


Want to read more of my views on artworks that hold my attention ? Visit the archive for Artwork in Focus.

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