Victor Vasarely, a Hungarian-French artist, used simple shapes, bold colours, and patterns to create optical illusions and geometric abstractions, considered one of the pioneers of Op art. If you’re looking for original Victor Vasarely prints and editions for sale or would like to sell, request a complimentary valuation and browse our network’s most in-demand works.

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Victor Vasarely, born Vásárhelyi Győző on April 9, 1906, in Pécs, Hungary, was a trailblazing artist and the acknowledged founder of the Op Art movement. His revolutionary work laid the foundation for the visual language of the late 20th century, exploring the dynamic potential of optical illusions, geometric shapes, and vibrant colours to create a new form of abstract art.

Victor Vasarely's Early Life and Education

Vasarely's early life was immersed in the vibrant cultural milieu of Budapest, where he studied medicine for a brief time before deciding to pursue a career in art. In 1927, he enrolled at the prestigious Műhely Academy, also known as the “Bauhaus of Budapest,” where he was introduced to the tenets of constructivism and Bauhaus design principles. Through these influences, Vasarely's unique aesthetic vision began to take shape.

In 1930, Vasarely moved to Paris, seeking to broaden his artistic horizons and immerse himself in the epicentre of the European art world. He began working as a graphic designer and commercial artist, collaborating with major advertising agencies, and creating layouts for various magazines. This experience proved to be a vital catalyst for Vasarely's work, as he began to explore the possibilities of geometric abstraction and the relationship between form, colour, and perception.

A white canvas with vertical black lines of varying widths strategically placed to create an optical effect of repeating rhombuses and squares.

Image © Sotheby's / AltaÏ III © Victor Vasarely 1955-1958

1. £565,250 for Victor Vasarely's AltaÏ III

AltaÏ III (1955-1958) is a seminal piece that reflects Victor Vasarely's early experimentation with optical paintings, which eventually became the hallmark of the Op Art movement. This monochromatic artwork employs a series of jagged lines that are carefully spaced through the use of geometric abstraction and optical effects of rhombuses, resulting in a dynamic and shifting visual experience that characterises early Op Art works. As Vasarely's artistic practice matured, he continued to develop and refine his style, making AltaÏ III a precursor to the unique display he would later become known.

Clearly recognisable as modern Op Art, it is no surprise that this work is Victor Vasarely's most popular and best-selling, having sold for £565,250 (fees included) at Sotheby’s in February 2010.

An optical view of two intertwined zebra necks forming an illusion of striped patterns. The zebras' heads emerge, revealing their camouflaged facial features.

Image © Christie's / Zèbres (Zebras) © Victor Vasarely

2. £485,000 for Victor Vasarely's Zèbres (Zebras)

Victor Vasarely's animal works are a testament to his earliest artistic experiments, showcasing the versatility of Op Art by merging figuration with optical effects. These works also demonstrate Vasarely's enduring fascination with the natural world and scientific evolution. Zèbres (Zebras), part of one of his most celebrated series of works, features the animals' necks and harnesses their black and white stripes to create an abstracted tunnel vision effect, emphasising their distinctive features.

Zèbres (Zebras)has gained significant recognition as a fundamental contribution to Victor Vasarely's oeuvre and sold for an impressive £485,000 (fees included) at Christie's in March 2017.

Image © Uppsala Auktionskammare / Citineu-II © Victor Vasarely

A canvas featuring vibrant hues of red, green, purple, and blue in two distinct shades. The colours are arranged in a repeating pattern of squares, creating a three-dimensional optical effect.

3. £451,802 for Victor Vasarely's Citineu-II

Citineu-II is a large-scale canvas that commands attention with its striking visual impact. The artwork showcases a meticulous pattern of tessellating squares in pure colour, one of the defining features of Victor Vasarely's later experimentation in the 1950s as he began incorporating bold colours into his practice. The vivid hues in the artwork are captivating, accentuating the dynamic sense of motion conveyed by the piece. Despite the intricate design, the shapes are simplistic, as Vasarely adhered to pure geometric forms, instilling a sense of order and balance that paradoxically contrasts with the chaotic illusion of building blocks.

This artwork's wide-ranging popularity in Europe was exemplified when it sold for £451,802 (hammer) at Uppsala Auction House in Sweden in May 2022.

A white background adorned with varying shades of purple, beige, blue, and pink. These colours are strategically positioned to form three-dimensional cubes that appear to come to life. Three large circles add an undulating wave-like optical effect to the composition.

Image © Desa Unicum / Nebulus © Victor Vasarely 1978