Victor Vasarely’s Permutations series from 1968 showcases his iconic approach to Op Art through a collection of eight serigraphs, each revealing a sophisticated manipulation of geometric form and optical illusion. Vasarely creates a visual dialogue that plays with the viewer’s perceptions, altering shape and depth through meticulous design.

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Meaning & Analysis

The Permutations series by Victor Vasarely, completed in 1968, is an exemplary demonstration of his theoretical and visual exploration into the realms of Op Art. Each print within this series employs a limited colour palette and a strict geometric vocabulary to articulate Vasarely's interest in the kinetic potentials of static imagery.

Each print in the series explores a distinct arrangement of geometric elements, typically squares and rhomboids, which Vasarely configures in varying spatial compositions to achieve visual effects of movement and depth. The series is defined by its systematic approach: Vasarely starts with a simple geometric motif and gradually increases complexity across the series through variations in colour, scale, and spatial orientation.

For instance, in Permutation 1, the artist introduces a simple grid pattern that subtly shifts in hue to create a pulsating effect. As the series progresses, the grids become increasingly complex, with Permutation 4 featuring a quadrant of these grids that superimpose to form deep visual planes, suggesting a three-dimensional space within the confines of a flat serigraph.

The screenprinting medium allowed Vasarely to achieve precise edges and uniform coloured shapes, which are crucial for the creation of this series' optical illusions. His methodical overlaying of inks enhanced the clarity of the geometric forms, essential for the appearance of depth and movement.

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