New HMA Exhibit Now Open: Masters of Op Art

Emilee Geist

This post was contributed by a community member. The views expressed here are the author’s own.

An exhibition of artwork by the founders of the Op Art movement is now on view at the Housatonic Museum of Art. The exhibit, entitled “Masters of Op Art,” features 13 dynamic pieces that are each an optical experience of color and form.

Op Art, or optical art, was a short-lived, yet innovative global offshoot of the Kinetic art movement that dominated the mid-1960s. A form of abstract art, Op Art gives the illusion of movement through the use of precise pattern and color, or conflicting patterns that emerge and overlap. The result: astonishing compositions that make the viewer an active participant by playing with their perceptions.

Responding to advancements of the time, including nuclear energy, aerospace and computer science, Op Art questioned the reality and possibilities of visual perception. The innovative use of optical illusion was quickly commercialized, finding its way into everyday design and advertisements, and becoming synonymous with the 1960s. Today, Op Art is hailed for its visionary spirit and fearless experimentation.

The “Masters of Op Art” exhibition contains works by the world-renowned father of the Op Art movement, Victor Vasarely, as well as founders Josef Albers, Richard Anuszkiewicz, Josef Levi, and Henry Charles Pearson.

“Op artists were fascinated by perception and the effects on the eye. Their repetition, precision and wild use of color draws viewers in, where they will enjoy the playful geometric figures, and swear the compositions are moving,” said Robbin Zella, Director of the Housatonic Museum of Art.

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