Art Books are Fun, Now Go Play!

Vasarely: Plastic Arts of the 20th Century, Vol. II. Prefatory remarks by Marcel Joray. Translated from French by Haakon Chevalier. Design and layout by the Artist Victor Vasarely. Published in Switzerland: Éditions Du Griffon Neuchâtel, 1970. Gift to the Milwaukee Art Museum Library of Mr. Robert V. Krikorian

Vasarely: Plastic Arts of the 20th Century, Vol. II. (Full captions below)

One of the most fascinating (and fun) books in the Museum’s rare book collection is a set of books by the artist Victor Vasarely.

Vasarely’s four-volume set Plastic Arts (1970), which features numerous color plates, foldouts and loose plastic overlays, not only exemplifies his unique approach to art, but equips the viewer with a finite set of colors and forms to play with and manipulate.

See our combinations below.

Hailed as the co-founder of optical art, or Op Art, the Abstract Painter Victor Vasarely (French, b. Hungary, 1908-1997) produced vibrant optical illusions through the manipulation of color, line, and shape.

Vasarely: Plastic Arts of the 20th Century, Vol. II. Prefatory remarks by Marcel Joray. Translated from French by Haakon Chevalier. Design and layout by the Artist Victor Vasarely. Published in Switzerland: Éditions Du Griffon Neuchâtel, 1970. Gift to the Milwaukee Art Museum Library of Mr. Robert V. Krikorian

Vasarely: Plastic Arts of the 20th Century, Vol. II. Prefatory remarks by Marcel Joray. Translated from French by Haakon Chevalier. Design and layout by the Artist Victor Vasarely. Published in Switzerland: Éditions Du Griffon Neuchâtel, 1970. Gift to the Milwaukee Art Museum Library of Mr. Robert V. Krikorian

Inspired by the psychology of perception, Vasarely employed his training in graphic art and typographic design to develop a precise palette of colors and forms as a guide to the systematic organization of space on a flat surface. From this strict palette of colors and forms, his assistants produced an endless variation of dazzling, shifting, and sometimes flickering optical illusions.

Vasarely: Plastic Arts of the 20th Century, Vol. II. Prefatory remarks by Marcel Joray. Translated from French by Haakon Chevalier. Design and layout by the Artist Victor Vasarely. Published in Switzerland: Éditions Du Griffon Neuchâtel, 1970. Gift to the Milwaukee Art Museum Library of Mr. Robert V. Krikorian

Vasarely: Plastic Arts of the 20th Century, Vol. II. Prefatory remarks by Marcel Joray. Translated from French by Haakon Chevalier. Design and layout by the Artist Victor Vasarely. Published in Switzerland: Éditions Du Griffon Neuchâtel, 1970. Gift to the Milwaukee Art Museum Library of Mr. Robert V. Krikorian

“[Volume II] is my tribute to the multitude, my sly salute to the youth … my hope of seeing fulfilied (sic) the right of all to material, sensorial and intellectual goods, and finally my conviction that to make men see is to make them joyous and civilized.”
–Victor Vasarely

Vasarely: Plastic Arts of the 20th Century, Vol. II. Prefatory remarks by Marcel Joray. Translated from French by Haakon Chevalier. Design and layout by the Artist Victor Vasarely. Published in Switzerland: Éditions Du Griffon Neuchâtel, 1970. Gift to the Milwaukee Art Museum Library of Mr. Robert V. Krikorian

Vasarely: Plastic Arts of the 20th Century, Vol. II. Prefatory remarks by Marcel Joray. Translated from French by Haakon Chevalier. Design and layout by the Artist Victor Vasarely. Published in Switzerland: Éditions Du Griffon Neuchâtel, 1970. Gift to the Milwaukee Art Museum Library of Mr. Robert V. Krikorian

By empowering the viewer to create their own optical illusions (and to enjoy the process of doing so), Vasarely proved a significant influence on contemporary graphic and popular arts.

You can find this book, and many more, in the Museum’s Library/Archives.

Heather Winter manages and oversees the Museum’s George Peckham Miller Art Research Library, the institutional archives and the rare books collection.
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