Optical Art (Op Art)
Posted by Osman on March 21, 2007
The movement officially lasted only three years, and followed the Pop Art movement.
Op Art began with the desire to involve a correlation between seeing and understanding. The art movement involved manipulating the eyes or creating an optical illusion. Similar to other movements, the Op Art artists did not use conventional paint and brush techniques. Instead, the artists used a limited color scheme, and a limited style to draw shapes and objects. Each painting or design had its own way of alluding the human eye. Although this movement was relatively short, the artistry they displayed was important to all art movements and art lovers.
The birth of Op Art began officially with an article in Time Magazine. In 1964, Time Magazine published an article featuring an art movement involving optical illusions. Since the artists focused on eye manipulation, Time Magazine coined this new movement “Op Art”. For a brief time, Op Art became a household name. Their name quickly became popular with the intellectual and social circles, and their work was well sought after.
But where had these new artists come from, and where did they get their ideas? The artists had great success, and this success came in part, from the work of other movements.
Many people were involved in making Op Art what it is today. For example, the artists during the Renaissance experimented with creating an optical illusion that would make a flat surface painting look like a 3-dimensional image. The Mannerists also tried to create alternate images for the human eye. They often displayed their paintings with minor distortions of puzzle-like images to create their illusions.
After about 400 years of experimentation with optical illusions in art, the Op Art movement decided to collectively study the importance and the effectiveness of art portrayed in a distorted manner.
However, the Op artists received most of their inspiration from the Post-Impressionists. The Post-Impressionists, mainly Seurat, created a style of painting called Pointillism. The process involved painting with tiny dots rather than full brushstrokes. When looked at from a distance, the artwork blends its own colors. In one sense, the dots appear to fuse together to make a different color; an optical illusion. The Op Art artists would eventually use these same principles when demonstrating the contrasts between white and black.