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First Major French Retrospective Victor Vasarely at Centre Pompidou, Paris

VASARELY : SHARING FORMS from 6 February until 8 May 2019.

Victor Vasarely (1906-1997) is a unique artist in the history of 20th century art.

28 Janvier 2019 - 00:45

From his birth in Hungary to his death in France - the artist, famous during his lifetime, distinguished himself in contemporary art with the creation of a new movement called optical art or OP-ART. Optical Art was based on black and white geometric patterns which he developed in the 1950s. The evolution of his life's work is inherently coherent, progressing from graphic art to promoting social art accessible to everybody.
Portrait of Victor Vasarely in 1960, Photo Willy Maywald, Association Wally Maywald, Paris 2019
Portrait of Victor Vasarely in 1960, Photo Willy Maywald, Association Wally Maywald, Paris 2019

Victor Vasarely was strongly influenced by the Bauhaus Movement in Europe

Centre Pompidou presents the first major retrospective in France to be dedicated to Victor Vasarely. Through three hundred works, objects and documents, the exhibition explores what could be designated as "Vasarely's artistic universe". All facets of this artist's prolific creation are show-cased, including paintings, sculptures, multiple editions of his designs or architectural sketchs through to his work in advertising and early studies.

Victor Vasarely was artistically trained in the wake of the Bauhaus movement in Hungary, and after leaving for France in 1930, continued to experiment, inspired by science fiction. In Paris he worked as a graphic designer in advertising, but then devoted himself fully to art after the war, producing many complex paintings.

Vasarely's abstract style, based on his observation of reality which also included the quirks and disorders of vision leading to optical kinetic art, based on the scientific process of distortion of images, the basis of Op-Art already mentioned. After the 1950s, his work was fully rooted in the scientific, economic and social context of the 1960s where Vasarely also endeavoured to change the aspect of architecture and television decor. Vasarely had developed a formal language based on six simple geometric forms encrusted in squares of pure colour which changed the aspect of all his paintings, architectural draft drawings or sculptures. Afterwards, his artistic language also included variations of these coloured squares which heralded the coming of digital art. A large mural of his work is still to be found at Gare Montparnasse in the 15th arrondissement of Paris.

As visitors will notice the exhibition follows a chronological and thematic path, rendering it easier for all to grasp the importance of Vasarely in art. In addition to presenting a large range of works, of which many have not been shown for fifty years, the exhibition also reveals the influence of Vasarely's art in the popular culture of his era and also includes one tapestry.
One of two large murals in the departure hall of Montparnasse station in Paris. Copryight SNCF Médiathèque, Adagp, 2018
One of two large murals in the departure hall of Montparnasse station in Paris. Copryight SNCF Médiathèque, Adagp, 2018

The curatorial team of Vasarely - Sharing Forms include the following :
Michael Bouthier, responsible for contemporary collections, Musée d'Art Moderne, Paris,
Arnaud Pierre, Professor of Contemporary Art History, La Sorbonne,
assisted by Mathilde Marchand, researcher at Musée d'Art Moderne, Paris.
The curators brought out a paperback catalogue in French : Vasarely, Le Partage des Formes, which will be available in the library of Centre Pompidou.

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