In the Labyrinth of Modernism

Victor Vasarely is the brilliant main representative of European op art and a key figure of French post-war art, whose oeuvre roots in the Bauhaus teachings of the 1920s. The retrospective at the Städel Museum presents Vasarely’s work of six decades, which epitomizes a complex, labyrinthine modernism between avant-garde and pop culture.


About the exhibition

The Städel Museum shows the special exhibition “Victor Vasarely. In the Labyrinth of Modernism”, which has been conceived as a comprehensive survey. The retrospective presents 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 trace 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 looks back at Vasarely’s beginnings as an artist with such works as “Hommage au carré” (1929) or figurative paintings like “Autoportrait” (1944). The selection spans 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 understands 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 presents 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.

Picture: Victor Vasarely, Vega Pal, 1969, Musée Unterlinden, Colmar, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018

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

Social Media The Städel Museum communicates the exhibition in the social media with the hashtag #Vasarely.

Online Ticket

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Digitorial & Audio Guide

Digitorial & Audio Guide

  • Multi-media preparation


    With the digitorial you can prepare for “Vasarely” in advance with the aid of informative texts, entertaining videos and lots of pictures – at home, in a café, or on the way to the exhibition.

    To the Digitorial

  • Available as free app

    Audio Guide

    The audio commentary will accompany you on your journey through the labyrinth of Modernism and unveils the numerous references to the art of the 20th century. Available as app for smartphones free of charge or device rental at the ticket desk for 4.50 euros.

    To the Audio Guide


  • + More
    Reytey (1968)

    Victor Vasarely (1906–1997)

    Reytey, 1968
    Tempera on canvas
    160 x 160 cm
    Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
    © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018
    Photo: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

  • + More
    Dining Room (1972)

    Victor Vasarely (1906–1997) and Yvaral (1934–2002)

    Dining Room, 1972
    Spatial installation
    Deutsche Bundesbank, Frankfurt am Main
    © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018
    Photo: Wolfgang Günzel

  • + More
    Cheyt-Pyr (1970/71)

    Victor Vasarely (1906–1997)

    Cheyt-Pyr, 1970/71
    Acrylic on canvas
    197 x 195 cm
    Janus Pannonius Múzeum, Pécs
    © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018
    Photo: István Füzi

  • + More
    Zèbres (1932–1942)

    Victor Vasarely (1906–1997)

    Zèbres, 1932–1942
    Oil on canvas
    112 x 102,9 cm
    Collection HAR
    © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018

  • + More
    Sauzon (1950)

    Victor Vasarely (1906–1997)

    Sauzon, 1950
    Oil on canvas
    130 x 97 cm
    Private collection, Courtesy Patrick Derom Gallery
    © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018
    Photo: Luc Schrobiltgen

  • + More
    Fugue (1958–1960)

    Victor Vasarely (1906–1997)

    Fugue, 1958–1960
    Oil on canvas
    100 x 79 cm
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, ownership Städelschen Museums-Verein e.V.
    © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018
    Photo: Städel Museum – ARTOTHEK



The exhibition will be accompanied by an eponymous catalogue edited by Dr. Martin Engler and published by Verlag für moderne Kunst. With contributions by Martin Engler, Györgyi Imre, Michel Gauthier, Jana Baumann, and Valerie Hillings and a foreword by Philipp Demandt. The catalogue will be published in a German and an English edition. 249 pages, 39.90 EUR each (museum edition).

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Instagram Challenge

Instagram Challenge

Take part in our Instagram Challenge!


Geometric forms, jazzy colours, flickering patterns – in the 1960s and 1970s, Victor Vasarely’s Op Art was everywhere to be seen. And it still is today, if we take a closer look: in our clothes cupboards, on cushions, lamps, in architecture. In short, everywhere in everyday life: #VasarelyEverywhere! Take part in our Instagram Challenge: find and post Vasarely motifs!

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