OpArt: A Unique Art Form That Will Leave You Mesmerized

Op Art is a form of abstract art that emerged in the 1960s and became popular throughout the world. It is characterized by the use of optical illusions and patterns, which creates an incredible visual effect that leaves the viewers spellbound. In this blog post, we will explore the origins of Op Art, its definition, its characteristics, and give some examples of it.

OpArt Thai South Loop Closed: What Could Have Happened?

Recently, there was an OpArt gallery in South Loop, Chicago, called OpArt Thai. However, it abruptly closed down, leaving many art lovers in dismay. There is no official statement from the gallery yet, but there are speculations that it could be due to the pandemic situation or financial problems. It is always sad to see art spaces shutting down, especially when they offer something so unique like Op Art. Let’s hope that OpArt Thai can reopen soon, and we can experience their marvelous creations again.

What is Op Art?

The term Op Art stands for Optical Art, which is an art form that plays with the visual perception of the viewers. Op Art uses optical illusions, patterns, and contrasting colors to create a sense of movement, depth, and vibration. The objective of Op Art is to stimulate the viewer’s eyes and mind, and create a unique visual experience. Op Art is considered part of the larger movement of abstract art, which removes the representational nature of art and focuses on the formal elements of color, line, and shape.

While the term Op Art was coined in the 1960s, the roots of this art form can be traced back to the early 20th century. Op Art is deeply connected to the modernist movement, which embraced new technologies and methods to create abstract forms of art. However, Op Art truly took shape in the 1960s when a group of artists, such as Bridget Riley, Victor Vasarely, and Richard Anuszkiewicz, started exploring the potential of optical illusions and patterns as a means of artistic expression.

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Where did Op Art originate?

Op Art emerged in multiple places simultaneously in the 1960s. The United States, Europe, and Japan all saw artists experimenting with geometric shapes, optical illusions, and patterns. However, it was the British artist Bridget Riley who gained widespread recognition for her Op Art creations. Riley’s paintings, such as “Fall” and “Blaze,” utilized parallel lines, squares, and circles to create intricate patterns and illusions, which created a sense of movement and depth.

In the United States, Op Art gained momentum in the mid-1960s when the Museum of Modern Art in New York held an exhibition titled “The Responsive Eye.” This exhibition showcased the work of several Op Art artists, and it attracted massive crowds and sparked a global interest in the form.

What are the characteristics of Op Art?

Op Art is characterized by several features that make it unique and captivating.

Optical Illusions

One of the significant characteristics of Op Art is the use of optical illusions. Op Art creates illusions of movement, depth, and vibration that are not present in reality. The optical illusions created by Op Art are mainly visual and utilize the contrast between colors, shapes, and lines.


Op Art utilizes patterns heavily to create a sense of repetition and rhythm. These patterns are geometric and abstract and are used to create optical illusions and movement. The patterns used in Op Art are often simple and straightforward, but they create complex visual effects that challenge the viewer’s perception.


The use of contrast is another critical characteristic of Op Art. Contrast creates a sense of depth and movement in Op Art, and it is often achieved by using black and white or complementary colors. The contrast between colors, shapes, and lines creates sharp edges and shapes that make the optical illusions more potent.

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Which is an example of Op Art?

Op Art has inspired several artists, and its influence can be seen in various forms of media. Here are a few examples of Op Art in popular culture.

Album covers

Op Art has been used as the design theme for several album covers. The Rolling Stones’ “Their Satanic Majesties Request” album cover is a classic example of Op Art. The cover features a trippy image of the band members inside a kaleidoscope-like pattern.

Fashion Design

Op Art has also influenced the world of fashion. The Italian fashion house, Missoni, is known for its use of zigzag patterns and bold colors inspired by Op Art. The designer Mary Quant, known for popularizing the mini-skirt, also utilized Op Art patterns in her designs.


Op Art has also made its way into the film industry. The opening credits of the James Bond movie, “Dr. No,” features an Op Art-inspired animation by graphic designer Maurice Binder. The animation features a series of geometric shapes and patterns moving in sync with the music.

How is Op Art defined?

Op Art can be challenging to define as it is subjective and depends on individual perceptions. However, Op Art can be defined as a form of abstract art that uses optical illusions, patterns, and contrast to create a unique visual experience. Op Art is all about challenging the viewer’s perception of reality and creating an illusion of movement, depth, and vibration.

In conclusion, Op Art is a unique and captivating art form that challenges the viewer’s perception of reality. It utilizes optical illusions, patterns, and contrast to create a unique visual experience that leaves the viewers mesmerized. Op Art has inspired many artists and has left its mark on popular culture. The closure of OpArt Thai in South Loop is a reminder that art spaces need our support and patronage.

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