Victor Vasarely

In the Labyrinth of Modernism

26 September 2018 to 13 January 2019

The Städel Museum showed the special exhibition “Victor Vasarely. In the Labyrinth of Modernism”, which has been conceived as a comprehensive survey. The retrospective presented the founder of the op art of the 1960s with more than one hundred works. Victor Vasarely’s (1906–1997) oeuvre, however, spans more than sixty years and makes use of the most diverse styles and influences: Key works of all phases of his production traced the development of the once-in-a century artist. Often reduced to his op art, the artist forged a bridge between the early modernism of Eastern and Central Europe and the avant-gardes of the Swinging Sixties in the West. He drew on traditional media and genres throughout his career, incorporating the multiple, mass production, and architecture into his complex work in the 1950s. The exhibition also looked back at Vasarely’s beginnings as an artist with such works as “Hommage au carré” (1929) or figurative paintings like “Autoportrait” (1944). The selection spanned from early works like “Zèbres” (1937) and his “Noir-et-Blanc” period of the 1950s to the main works of op art such as the “Vega” pictures of the 1970s. The wide-ranging retrospective understood itself as a rediscovery of a crucial twentieth-century artist who reflects modernism in all its complexity like no other.

Next to important loans from the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Tate Modern in London, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, or the Michele Vasarely Foundation, the exhibition presented not least the dining hall created for the Deutsche Bundesbank as an outstanding example of Vasarely’s room-spanning architectural designs.

Exhibition organised by the Städel Museum, Frankfurt in collaboration with the Centre Pompidou, Paris.

Images: Victor Vasarely, Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2021

Curators Dr. Martin Engler (Head of Contemporary Art, Städel Museum), Dr. Jana Baumann (Research assistant Contemporary Art, Städel Museum)
Jointly supported by Kulturstiftung des Bundes and Kulturstiftung der Länder
Partner of contemporary art in the Städel Museum Deutsche Bank AG
Culture partner hr2-kultur
Media partners Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Handelsblatt, Verkehrsgesellschaft Frankfurt am Main

Vasarely in the Digital Collection

The multi-media preparation course

Find out everything worth knowing about Victor Vasarely – even after the exhibition!

To the digitorial



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