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Op Art

  Op Art (short for Optical Art), as its name suggests, exploits, in an abstract context, visual ambiguities to trick the eye into a misreading of the image. Thus the wavy pinstripes of Bridget Riley\'s paintings, such as Drift 2 (1966), seem to shimmer before the eye, while Victor Vasarély, the most successful exponent of Op Art, used various devices, such as positive-negative shapes, to make his paintings flicker like a movie image. Op Art works by focusing interest exclusively on the question of visual perception, while reducing to insignificance any potential interest in subject matter and avoiding a gestural handling of paint liable to draw attention back to the physicality of the painting. It tends to disorient some viewers, while exhilarating others. These unpredictable medical side effects caused its influence on design and advertising (at its height in the 1960s) to be short-lived. MG PD

Further reading Parola, Optical Art: Theory and Practice.



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