Widely considered the father of Op Art, the Hungarian born Victor Vasarely who later became a citizen of France, came into prominence after his work was included in the groundbreaking 1965 exhibition "The Responsive Eye" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. A term first coined by a journalist writing for Time magazine in 1963, Op Art designates a style and movement of art which exploits viewers perceptions through the exploration of optical effects.
The foundations of Vasarely's Op Art idiom derive from mathematical systems and basic geometric forms: the circle, the square, and the triangle. Inspired by Gestalt psychology, which considers the way the viewer's mind perceives visual information, Vasarely's new pictorial language is realized through his distorting of the conventional relationship between figure and ground. His juxtaposition of contrasting colours renders forms that appear to vibrate and move in some works and in others, geometric forms seem to take on a three dimensionality. John Lancaster wrote in his groundbreaking book on the movement "Optical Art is a method of painting concerning the interaction between illusion and picture plane, between understanding and seeing." (J. Lancaster, Introducing Op Art, London 1973, p. 28).
While Vasarely championed a technical, quasi-scientific approach to image making, his project was equally motivated by democratic and anti-elitist ideals. "The Art of tomorrow will be a collective treasure or will not be Art at all" he proclaimed. Art was to be an integral part of everyday life. In the spirit of this belief system, he hoped his art would enrich and enhance the human environment through its application in urban planning and architecture.