Victor Vasarely, Sharing Forms at the Centre Pompidou in Paris


Until 6 May 2019, the Centre Pompidou in Paris presents a major retrospective dedicated to Victor Vasarely.

cover image: Portrait of Victor Vasarely, 1960. Photo Willy Maywald © Association Willy Maywald / Adagp, Paris 2019

Through three hundred works, objects and documents, the exhibition explores the world of the father of Op Art, presenting every aspect of his work, from paintings, sculptures, multiples and architectural integrations to advertisements and early studies.

Born in Hungary, Victor Vasarely (1906-1997) moved to Paris in 1930, where he worked as a designer in advertising before devoting himself fully to art after World War II.
In the mid-1950s, he laid the foundations for what would become known as Op Art. A key moment in the history of abstraction, optical-kinetic art, based on a strictly scientific process, offered up unstable images in which painting became an art of time as much as an art of space.
At the same time, he worked on the development of a formal vocabulary applicable to a multiplicity of areas, especially to architecture.


Vega,1956, oil on canvas, 130 x 195 cm. Private collection, Belgium.
Photo © Centre Pompidou / Philippe Migeat © Adagp, Paris, 2018

In 1954 the construction of the Caracas university campus offered Vasarely his first opportunity to give concrete expression to his ideas on how to integrate art into the city, alongside Jean Arp, Alexander Calder, and Fernand Léger. The idea of a social art going hand in hand with the development of the “plastic alphabet” found its logical expression in the utopia of a “Polychrome city of happiness” and, more concretely, in the construction of many architectural apparatus.
The most famous of these appeared during the 1970s: in the new building at Montparnasse station in Paris, in the headquarters of Renault in Boulogne-Billancourt, on the façade of the building of the RTL radio station in Paris, and in the dining room of the Deutsche Bundesbank in Frankfurt am Main.
But it was in the Foundation bearing his name in Aix-en-Provence that Vasarely gave concrete expression to one of his most audacious projects. Many studies conducted in the 1960s and 1970s testify to the importance for Vasarely of the utopia of the “Polychrome city of happiness”, a veritable adaptation of his alphabet to mass architecture. For Vasarely, buildings had truly become the place where he shared his forms, rather than walls of museums.


The dining room of the Deutsche Bundesbank, Frankfurt am Main, 3,2 x 11,60 x 7,80 m.
Photo Wolfgang Günzel ©Kunstsammlung Deutsche Bundesbank  © Adagp, Paris, 2018

Vasarely’s work was fully rooted in the scientific, economic and social context of the 1960s and 1970s. In addition to presenting a large range of works, some of which have not be exhibited for over fifty years, the exhibition also reveals the influence of Vasarely’s art in the popular culture of his era (in fashion, design, graphic arts, film and television, etc.), highlighting his key role in the  post-war boom years.


Victor Vasarely and Ambrogio Pozzi, porcelain table service Manipur, 1978. Edited by Rosenthal Private collection. Photo © Fabrice Lepeltier © Adagp, Paris, 2018

Victor Vasarely, Sharing Forms
Centre Pompidou, Paris
6 February / 6 May 2019

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images courtesy of Centre Pompidou

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