Created in 1964, Victor Vasarely's screenprint series Planetary Folklore is a lively expression of Op Art, melding intricate geometries with a deep investigation into visual perception. This series, consisting of prints titled Planetary Folklore I through to Planetary Folklore VI, explores the synthesis of colour and form to evoke cultural resonances.

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Meaning & Analysis

Victor Vasarely's Planetary Folklore series, produced in 1964, is a vibrant expression of Op Art, a period during which he delved into the manipulation of geometric shapes to create an illusion of spatial depth on a flat surface. This series marks a significant point in Vasarely's oeuvre, encapsulating his transition from graphic art to a more profound engagement with the optical potentials of colour and form.

Each print within the series, from Planetary Folklore I to Planetary Folklore VI, is characterised by a meticulous arrangement of geometric patterns and a muted colour palette that guides the eye across undulating surfaces, creating a dynamic interplay between the artwork and its viewer. Vasarely's use of a consistent set of forms—squares, circles, and ellipses—morphed through variations in size and positioning, results in a pulsating effect that radiates motion and depth.

For instance, Planetary Folklore I features a complex lattice of squares and triangles in a predominantly black and white palette. This creates a vibrating effect, where the flat print seems to expand and contract before the viewer's eyes. Planetary Folklore III, on the other hand, uses warmer colours of rusts, yellows and greens, arranged in a tighter interlocking formation that evokes the rhythmic patterns of digital matrices or circuit boards.

The series illustrates Vasarely's ability to harnesses the simplicity of geometric abstraction to evoke complex visual experiences, reflecting his belief in the capacity of the visual language to communicate across cultural boundaries.

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