Op art, also known as optical art, is a style of visual art that makes use of optical illusions.
"Optical art is a method of painting concerning the interaction between illusion and picture plane, between understanding and seeing.Op art works are abstract, with many of the better known pieces made in only black and white. When the viewer looks at them, the impression is given of movement, hidden images, flashing and vibration, patterns, or alternatively, of swelling or warping.
The term first appeared in print in Time magazine in October 1964 though works which might now be described as "op art" had been produced for several years previously. For instance, Victor Vasarely's painting, Zebras (1938), is made up entirely of curvilinear black and white stripes that are not contained by contour lines. Consequently, the stripes appear to both meld into and burst forth from the surrounding background of the composition. Also the early black and white Dazzle panels of John McHale installed at the This Is Tomorrow exhibit in 1956 and his Pandora series at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in 1962 demonstrate proto-op tendencies.
An optical illusion by Hungarian-born artist Victor Vasarely
In the 1960s Arnold Schmidt Arnold Alfred Schmidthad several solo exhibitions of his large, black and white shaped optical paintings exhibited at the Terrain Gallery in New York.
Op art is a perceptual experience related to how vision functions. It is a dynamic visual art, stemming from a discordant figure-ground relationship that causes the two planes to be in a tense and contradictory juxtaposition. Op art is created in two primary ways. The first, and best known method, is the creation of effects through the use of pattern and line. Often these paintings are black and white, or otherwise grisaille. Such as in Bridget Riley's famous painting, Current (1964), on the cover of The Responsive Eye catalogue, black and white wavy lines are placed close to one another on the canvas...