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Saturday, May 13, 2006


My previous tie from J. Blades & Co. alluded to the mid-twentieth-century sculpture of Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth; this tie points to the graphic art of Victor Vasarely. While Verner Panton popularized op art through his textile designs, Vasarely had blazed the way with his paintings and his theory of "multiples," art which could be efficiently (and affordably) reproduced through modern industrial techniques. Vasarely's later works were not paintings at all, but collages of vinyl. To quote Vasarely (as told to Jean-Louis Ferrier):
"Once I had discovered my alphabet, I hastened to put it into material form. I selected six basic colors: a chrome yellow, an emerald green, an ultramarine, a cobalt violet, a red, and a gray. From it I obtained six scales, each with 12 or 13 nuances, ranging from light to dark, and I added colored blacks--a blue black, a red black, a green black, and so on. Then I had tens of thousands of sheets printed by the serigraphic process, and had all the units of my alphabet punched out of them. Placed in cases, like type characters, they are so many form-colors which form the surest and fastest method of realizing my programmings executed on scale paper. By simple collage I obtain exactly what I want, that is, a combination which is both formal and colored, and which I call algorithm or permutation."
That explains the sharpness of line and the uniformity of color within the tiles of his most famous works, such as the Vega series. This tie pales in comparison, but a pale imitation of Vasarely is better than none at all.

(Quote from Vasarely by Gaston Diehl, Crown Publishers, 1976, English edition; translated from the French by Eileen B. Hennesy from original Bonfini Press edition, 1973. See Bridget Riley for more pioneering op art works.)

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