Victor Vasarely's posthumous auction success reached its pinnacle in 2007, a decade after his passing. The enduring popularity of his works persisted until 2010, culminating in his then-auction record, AltaÏ III (1955-1958), marking his auction record at £565,250 (fees included). While his paintings command the highest prices at auction, an intriguing trend emerged during Vasarely's peak years of success, where the prints and multiples market consistently outperformed the paintings market, with notably high values observed in 2007 and 2011.
Vasarely, influenced by his graphic design background and his interest in science and evolution, was known for his versatility in working across various mediums. In the past five years, his market has witnessed a stagnant resurgence, likely influenced by the notable sale of Zèbres (Zebras) in 2017, realising £485,000 (fees included), which sparked renewed interest in his market.
Currently, Vasarely's paintings and prints are featured more frequently in auctions and prestigious evening sales conducted by renowned international auction houses. Given Vasarely's continual refinement and evolution of his artistic style throughout his career, Op Art enthusiasts have a wide range of options to explore.
The following list showcases Victor Vasarely's top-selling works.
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.
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.
(KR (SEK) 5,600,000 )
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.
(PLZ 2,000,000 )
In 1969, Victor Vasarely created Nebulus, a mesmerising grid display that showcases the evolving maturation of Vasarely's style during the 1970s. The artwork features repeating three-dimensional cubes and demonstrates Vasarely's experimentation with gradual colour transitions. By arranging the cubes in a specific manner, Vasarely creates anamorphic spheres that manipulate the viewer's perception, drawing the eye in and out of the composition. Through this piece, Vasarely demonstrates his ability to achieve photorealistic digital effects through painting, establishing himself as an artistic pioneer ahead of his time.
As a Hungarian-French artist, Victor Vasarely has achieved widespread success in various European auction houses. Nebulus sold for £415,354 (hammer) at Desa Unicom Polish auction house in November 2018.
During his stay in Paris, Victor Vasarely drew inspiration from the city's geometric infrastructure, as well as the curves of the French coastline and hills of the countryside. This influence can be seen in his artwork Chillan (1952-1957), which was sold for a successful sum of £401,595 (fees included) at Christie's in June 2020. Chillan is a remarkable example of Vasarely's use of a dual-colour combination of red and black through a constructivist approach to combine the contrasting colours and forms. The brilliance of this work is in Vasarely's deliberate disruption of pure geometric forms while maintaining a sense of balance through the calculated placement of the elements.
Zig-Zag (1986), exemplifies Victor Vasarely's distinct artistic style and was auctioned at Desa Unicom, a Polish auction house, in May 2021, fetching a price of £367,460 (fees included). The artwork showcases symmetrical precision achieved by repeating shapes in varying sizes. Vasarely's adept use of this technique generates spatial awareness of the elements that extend outward and inward, imbuing the piece with depth and visual intrigue. Vasarely's manipulation of the basic elements creates a sense of dynamism that draws the viewer's gaze and underscores his skilful use of optical illusion.
($514,000 (USD) )
Kat-Tuz (1972-1975), a monochromatic artwork sold for £328,960 (fees included) at Sotheby's in May 2015. The piece's significance lies in its exemplification of Victor Vasarely's early experimentation with protruding spheres within traditional square compositions. The work serves as a formative example of this technique, as the spheres appear to float or hover due to the repetitive pattern of various circles. His later works were often defined by the illusion of blending and merging amorphous objects together, which creates a heightened sense of movement and fluidity within the composition.
This work defies grid-based boundaries through surface tension and marks a period when Op Art began to gain recognition through the efforts of like-minded artists.
Alom-2 (1967) was acquired at Bonhams London in March 2017 for £293,000 (fees included), positioning it within the ten most valuable artworks sold by Victor Vasarely. The piece epitomises Vasarely's conceptual theories, exemplified by the vibrantly harmonious fusion of colours and dynamic geometry throughout its surface. Alom-2 employs a striking interplay of circles and squares, delivering a multi-dimensional visual experience for the viewer that engages in a “push-and-pull’’ effect. The dynamism of this work creates depths and planes, spanning from the centre to the periphery of the artwork.
(PLZ 1,560,000 )
In the 1980s, Victor Vasarely's artistic style matured, focusing on creating a three-dimensional sense of movement that imbues the artwork with a constant state of flux. Onnca (1986) is a compelling example of this artistic approach, as the elements of the composition undulate and ripple in a fluid-like manner. Vasarely's calculated use of contrasting colour hues, achieved through gradual saturation, creates a sense of balance between stability and stillness, resulting in a lesser degree of movement and vibration than his earlier spherical works from the 1970s. Interpretively, Onnca presents a hypnotising landscape allowing the viewer's eye to traverse plateaus. The intricate network of tessellating shapes and interlocking patterns creates a complex spectacle, whereas this artwork realised £288,022 (fees included) at Desa Unicum auction in 2021.
During the late 1970s, Victor Vasarely continued his experimentation with surface tension by employing rows of repeating geometric forms in his works. Dauve (1977) demonstrates a “push-pull’’ effect where the central sphere and the tunnel are constantly approaching and receding from the viewer, resulting in an immersive and dynamic visual experience. Vasarely's exploration of various colour palettes and gradients during this period was heavily influenced by celebrated colour theorist and Bauhaus student Joseph Albers. Albers' “Hommage to the Square’’ series, which incorporated colour and geometric shapes within a square format, played a significant role in Vasarely's artistic development. Consequently, Vasarely continued to produce works that utilised unique colour combinations to achieve diverse optical effects, becoming characteristic of the Op Art Movement.
Dauve, an exemplary work by Victor Vasarely, was sold for £245,963 (hammer) at the German Auction House Ketterer Kunst GmbH in 2018.