Key Dates: 1960-
Op Art or Optical Art is the term used to describe paintings or sculptures which seem to swell and vibrate through their use of optical effects. The movement’s leading figures were Bridget Riley and Victor Vasarely who used patterns and colours in their paintings to achieve a disorientating effect on the viewer.
The sculptors Eric Olsen and Francisco Sobrino used layers of different coloured perspex to create a similar illusion of distortion. The artists used established ideas on perceptive psychology but needed to use maximum precision to gain the results they intended.
Op Art is a form of abstract art and is closely connected to the Kinetic and Constructivist Art movements.
It was fashionable in the United States and Europe in the 1960s and 1970s but was greeted with a certain degree of scepticism by the critics.
After ‘The Responsive Eye’ exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1965 the term became a household name and the style was soon appropriated by fashion designers and high street stores.