Op art is a modern art style that emerged in the 1960s, mainly in painting and graphics. It uses optical effects like moire patterns, optical illusions, and colour effects created by complementary colours. It has similarities with other modern art movements like minimalism and geometric abstraction, as well as colour-field painting.
Richard Anuszkiewicz, Bridget Riley, and Victor Vasarely were notable leaders in the op art movement during the 1960s. It was suggested the term “op” was used to distinguish this style from POP art, which was seen as a competitor. More likely, “op art” is a shortened version of “optical art”. It refers to art forms, such as paintings and sculptures, that use visual illusions and effects to play with the viewer’s perception. The term was coined by an anonymous writer in Time magazine on October 23rd, 1964, and has since become popularly used to describe two-dimensional art pieces with a strong psychological impact.
Op art had a significant impact on graphic and interior design, as its abstract visual effects were easily incorporated into advertisements and large, colourful wall paintings known as “SUPERGRAPHICS.” Despite its continuing presence in modern art, interest in op art has diminished since its heyday, making it seem like a historical event.
Pile, J. (1994). Dictionary of 20th-Century Design. Da Capo Press, Incorporated. https://doi.org/10.1604/9780306805691