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Victor Vasarely (French, 1906-1997)


Also known as:  Vasarely, Victor de; Vasarely, Victor De; Victor De Vasarely

Birth Place: Pécs, Hungary


Who was painter Victor Vasarely?

Victor Vasarely was a Hungarian painter and sculptor best known for his contributions to the Op art movement. Indeed, his piece Zebra (1930) is considered to be one of the first examples of op art to ever exist. Vasarely traveled prolifically throughout his early life, soaking up many different influences before eventually settling in Paris in the 1930s. He would make the city his home base for the rest of his life. He opened a private workshop and studio there after World War II. 

Vasarely enjoyed much success during his lifetime. He was invited to the prestigious Burtin’s Vision ‘67 conference in New York City because of his early contributions to the op art movement. This renewed interest in much of Vasarely’s work and gave him a large audience in America. He had multiple museums dedicated to just his work, including the palace in Gordes (which closed in 1996) as well as the Foundation Vasarely in Aix-en-Provence. He received the Guggenheim prize in 1964, became an honorary member of France’s Legion of Honor in 1970, and won an art critics prize in Brussels. He died in 1997 in his beloved Paris. 

What kind of art does Victor Vasarely make?

Victor Vasarely was a founding member of the op art movement, which was known for its playfulness, it’s use of optical illusion and its use of hyper-stylized geometric shapes. Vasarely experimented with these techniques over a variety of different mediums, including paintings and sculptures. His use of cubist, futurist, and surrealist aesthetics proved that he was not only a pioneer, but also a student of art history and a true original. His pieces in the 1950s and 1960s are legendary for their use of rearranged colored squares, using only a small palette of repeated colors he was able to create a virtually endless series of permutations. Never content to rest on his laurels, Vasarely was a prolific artist throughout virtually his entire career and life. When he died, he had multiple museums in both France and Hungary dedicated to his work. 

How did painter Victor Vasarely get started?

Vasarely was born in Pecs but grew up in Postyen, a small Slovakian town of about 28,000 people. He moved to Budapest and studied medicine at Eotvos Lorand University, but soon changed to an art major so he could better learn traditional techniques from the Podolini Volkmann Academy. He married his college sweetheart in 1929, which was also the time he began his blue and green studies. He worked for a ball-bearings company doing accounting and advertising work, before graduating to graphic design in the 1930s. These techniques would all come together in his work as an op-art artist. He left Hungary in 1930 for Paris, where he would live for the rest of his life. 

How much are Victor Vasarely paintings worth?

Victor Vasarely’s paintings are extremely popular, and as such he has an extensive history of sales at auction. His pieces can go for a few thousand on the low end to several hundreds of thousands of dollars on the high end. The most ever paid for a Victor Vasarely painting is $882,920 on February 10th, 2010 for the piece ALTAI III (1955). His most famous piece, Zebras (1932) sold for $591,800 on March 3rd, 2017. His pieces are not only crowd-pleasers but are also an important part of art history. As such, a prospective collector would be wise to look out for a Vasarely when they become available. 

Where to buy Victor Vasarely paintings for sale?

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How to value Victor Vasarely paintings?

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