Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Art for the psychologist: Op Art

There is something deeply satisfying about op art: the clean lines, the repetition of form, and, of course, the inherent contradictions and perceptual trickery of the mind.

There are two types of op art.

The first is the paintings that are usually done in black and white, but sometimes in grisaille. This type of op art is able to trick the mind because of the way in which the eye’s retina receives and processes light. Or in other words, this is not merely art for aesthetics’ sake but art for the mind. Probably the best proponent of this style is the brilliant British artist Bridget Riley:

 Movement in Squares Movement in Squares, by Bridget Riley, 1961

 Breathe Breathe, by Bridget Riley,1966

 Current Current, by Bridget Riley 1964

The second type of op art features color. These are less well known than the black and white types as they tend to be less effective. Some of them are quite good though:

 Intrinsic Harmony Intrinsic Harmony, by Richard Anuszkiewicz, 1965

Certainly a whole lot better than Damien Hirst I'm sure you'll agree!!


Sunny said...

I like Current best. I have always found optical art really interesting. One of the best examples of optical art was near Midland, Western Australia, there is a guy who makes art using angle grinders on metal to make 3D pictures, where the rivers seem to be flowing and so on. It is caused by the light refracting at different angles on the metal. Amazing stuff. Talented guy.