Friday, December 23, 2011

Good Vibrations

GOOD VIBRATIONS:  "Optical art is a method of painting concerning the interaction between illusion and picture plane, between understanding and seeing," wrote John Lancaster in his book Introducing Op Art in 1973.  All we know, kids, is that Op Art is a freakin' trip to look at....and doesn't cost anything to get there, except for an investment of your time in seeking out the good stuff.  And by that we mean works, for example, by the amazing Bridget Riley (a former art teacher at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Harrow, England -- wow!) who came to fame in the 1960s with her black and white Op Art paintings that viewers said induced feelings somewhere between seasickness and skydiving!  An exhibition of Op Art in 1965 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City went over swimmingly with the public, but not so much with the critics. And then there's Victor Vasarely born in 1908, often called the "father" of Op Art who experimented with numerous styles to reach "Op," starting out in graphic design, influenced by the German Bauhaus artists and early Abstract Expressionists -- taking what he observed to the next level using geometric precision and -- voila! -- to Op Art. Artists Yaakov Agam, Josef AlbersJulian Stanczak, Richard Allen, and Richard Anuszkiewicz are just some of the many other major Op artists that have gone before, paving a new visual way of seeing things that trick the eye into perceiving a wide range of things which don't exist in the natural realm.  These pioneers -- along with the artists of today who continue in this genre -- are more interested in what exists in the cerebral realm where virtually anything is possible, if only you are willing to take a look....and another....and another....and another, until it becomes real.