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DEC. 29, 1969: Op Goes the Easel

WWD takes a look at a vintage interview with the Hungarian psychedelic artist Victor Vasarely.

If you missed the San Antonio Museum of Art’s showcase on psychedelic art earlier this year, the exhibit opened this weekend at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York. WWD takes a look back at one of the artists featured in “Psychedelic: Optical and Visionary Art Since the 1960s”: Victor Vasarely, one of Op Art’s pioneers, who was featured on December 29, 1969. “Every age has its style,” Vasarely told the paper’s Paris correspondent, who traveled 30 minutes outside of the city to the artist’s residence. “The Gothic style, Renaissance style, Louis XV. Today, it’s still a little bit of anarchy….Now we have television, radio, cinemas, technological advances, but man still has need of a form, a balance which was present in the past.” Thus, Vasarely’s signatures — meticulous pixellike patterns, abstract geometrics, modular graphics and spatial distortions, which played like digital art before today’s digital era. “Technology aids us enormously, n’est-ce pas?” he remarked. “The trip to the moon was all technology. But as a painter, a sculptor, I ask myself if we haven’t already discovered this landscape.” Here, a few more of the Hungarian’s thoughts.


• “Color never comes alone. It is always part of the form. Form, color are the fundamental base of this structural abstraction that I represent. Structural. Abstract. Color. Form. The plastic universal language.”

• “Do you know the story of Cézanne and his painting ‘La Montagne St. Victoire’? He stood for two years with one tiny little corner of the painting unfinished because he couldn’t decide what color to put there. Today, we don’t have that kind of time.”

• “In pre-history, man communicated by speaking. Afterward, through writing and then books. Now, you can be more quickly informed through television than any other medium. To acquire knowledge today through books is unthinkable because man’s fields of knowledge have become so vast. I think this is what was behind the student rebellions of 1968. The students knew unconsciously that it was no longer possible for them to continue acquiring information in the manner of a generation before, so they rebelled. It was instinctive.”

• “I love to dance, to eat, to drink, to play cards. And when I was younger, I loved to court women. Now, women court me.”

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