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Victor Vasarely (Hungary/France 1906‑1997)


To be sold at our Important Sale: Modern & Contemporary Art + Design 8 – 10 November 2023

Lot 436 Victor Vasarely (Hungary/France 1906‑1997). ”Draga”. Signed Vasarely and signed and dated Vasarely 1973 on the reverse. Acrylic on cardboard mounted on panel, 51 x 51 cm.

Inscribed with the archive number ”2763” on the reverse.
The authenticity of the present work has been confirmed by Pierre Vasarely, President of the Fondation Vasarely, universal legatee and the moral right holder of Victor Vasarely. This work will be included in the forthcoming Catalogue Raisonné de l’Oeuvre Peint de Victor Vasarely, which is currently being compiled by the Fondation Vasarely, Aix-en-Provence.


300.000 – 400.000 SEK
€ 26.000 – 35.000


Galleri Art & Form, Stockholm.
A Swedish private collection, acquired from the above.

The Hungarian born Victor Vasarely became famous during his lifetime through his ability to distinguish himself from contemporary art, with the creation of a new movement called optical art. Throughout his early life, he found himself more drawn towards the sciences than the arts; an interest that encouraged him to apply for the University of Budapest’s School of Medicine where he studied for two years. The formal scientific training provided him with a strong sense of scientific method and objectivity. When he made his life-changing decision to pursue a career in art instead of medicine a few years later, he was probably not aware of that his first years of studies would prove to be very useful even within his artistry. His further studies at Muhely, known as the Bauhaus of Budapest, led him to discover constructivism and abstract art. Artists like Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee and Walter Gropius became important role models for the young Vasarely as they introduced him to the formal and geometrical style of art. A theory that the sciences had reached the limits of what could be explained began to take form, and the answer according to Vasarely was to combine science with art so that the scientific models could be visually comprehensible.

In the early decades of the 1900s, several artists including Vasarely moved to Paris. His artworks from his early years in the city were very graphical and laid the foundation for his further development towards a more optical form of art. He brought together objects of varying size and scale with richly coloured backgrounds of rhomboids, and experimented with the checkered design. The instant pattern and the appearance of depth despite the absence of a subject introduced Vasarely to the vibrating effect of combining geometrical patterns. This revelation had a significant impact on his artistry and can be considered to be a precursor to his later optical art. He made his first paintings in the 1940s, first in black and white and later in colour. They presented geometric abstractions that evolved into an optical phenomenon, a development from his graphic period that was very successful. The movement from paintings that evolved from representational images to abstract works composed entirely of geometric shapes occurred only a few years later.

Soon he began to support the ideas of art as something less individualistic and more collective, a theory that would follow him throughout his career. For the artist himself it was of great importance that the art he created could be mass produced and affordable for everyone. In this way, he believed that the art would benefit all of society. The invention of the Plastic Alphabet, built on the idea of a universal language, was previously introduced by abstract artists earlier in the century. It changed the former perception of art as a subjective matter in the 1960s. In the artist’s own words he combined “two geometric elements that fit one into the other, that come together, that switch places” and together with the contrasting colours, the artist was able to make illusions appear. During this period he further developed his sense of perspective, shape, material and lines and was even then widely honoured for being a master of optical illusion. In the present sale is ”Draga” from 1973, a fine example of Vasarely’s superb technique to create movement on a flat surface. He would often return to the dramatic colours of blue, red and green in his oeuvre during the 1970s and 1980s, appearing also in the monumental painting ”Citineu-II” sold at Uppsala Auktionskammare in May 2022. Vasarely started to work on ”Citineu-II”, arguably one of the most impressive paintings by Vasarely ever to appear at auction, in the same year as ”Draga”. Painted at a time when Vasarely was already a well-established artist and an acclaimed front figure within the Op art movement, ”Draga” shows his famously sparkling colours that make the surface vibrate with intensity.  

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