1970s Op Art Abstract Prints
A Close Look at op-art Art
Spreading across Europe and the Americas, the style — whose name is short for “optical art” — influenced advertising, fashion and interior design before fading in the early ’70s.
Op art remained significant, however, for artists and scientists interested in the nature of perception. And today, it’s seeing a resurgence of interest from collectors and interior designers.
Op artists played with the principles of perception, manipulating line, shape, patterns and color to create the illusion of depth and movement. They drew on and evolved methods developed by past movements, from Impressionism to Abstract Expressionism, to produce intense visual experiences.
All the Op artists shared a focus on the gap between what is and what we perceive. Each, however, had a distinct approach to the issue and a unique visual style.
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Unlike figurative paintings and other figurative art, which focuses on realism and representational perspectives, abstract art concentrates on visual interpretation. An artist may use a single color or simple geometric forms to create a world of depth. Printmaking has a rich history of abstraction. Through materials like stone, metal, wood and wax, an image can be transferred from one surface to another.
During the 19th century, iconic artists, including Edvard Munch, Paul Cézanne, Georgiana Houghton and others, began exploring works based on shapes and colors. This was a departure from the academic conventions of European painting and would influence the rise of 20th-century abstraction and its pioneers, like Pablo Picasso and Piet Mondrian.
Some leaders of European abstraction, including Franz Kline, were influenced by the gestural shapes of East Asian calligraphy. Calligraphy interprets poetry, songs, symbols or other means of storytelling into art, from works on paper in Japan to elements of Islamic architecture.