VICTOR VASARELY (1906-1997)
Victor Vasarely was a Hungarian French artist whose work is generally seen as aligned with Op-art. Vasarely was born in Pécs and in 1925 he took up medical studies at Budapest University. In 1927 he abandoned medicine to learn traditional academic painting at the private Podolini-Volkmann Academy. In 1928/1929, he enrolled at Sándor Bortnyik’s workshop, then widely recognized as the center of Bauhaus studies in Budapest concentrating on applied graphic art and typographical design. Vasarely became a graphics designer and a poster artist during the 1930s who combined patterns and organic images with each other. He left Hungary and settled in Paris in 1930 working as a graphic artist and as a creative consultant for advertising agencies. Vasarely eventually went on to produce art and sculpture mainly focused around the area of optical illusion. Over the next three decades, Vasarely developed his style of geometric abstract art, working in various materials but using a minimal number of forms and colours.
On 5 June 1970, Vasarely opened his first dedicated museum with over 500 works in a renaissance palace in Gordes (closed in 1996). A second major undertaking was the Foundation Vasarely in Aix-en-Provence, a museum housed in a distinct structure specially designed by Vasarely. It was inaugurated in 1976 by French president Georges Pompidou. Also, in 1976 his large kinematic object Georges Pompidou was installed in the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Vasarely Museum located at his birth place in Pécs, Hungary, was established with a large donation of works by Vasarely. In 1982, 154 specially created serigraphs were taken into space by the cosmonaut Jean-Loup Chrétien on board the French-Soviet spacecraft Salyut 7 and later sold for the benefit of UNESCO. In 1987, the second Hungarian Vasarely museum was established in Zichy Palace in Budapest with more than 400 works. Vasarely died age 90 in Paris on 15 March 1997.