Optical Impulses presents the art of pivotal artists who explore both the phenomenal and psychological aspects of visual perception. Josef Albers (1888–1976) and Herbert Bayer (1900–1985), both of whom were connected with the groundbreaking Bauhaus school of modern art and design, Victor Vasarely (1908–1997) and the Venezuelan-born artist Jésus Rafael Soto (1923–2005), who was a central figure in postwar experimental abstract art, all present the viewer with experiments in perceiving color, space, and movement. These artists strip away representational connotations in an attempt to create an art of pure visual sensation.
These artists were at the forefront of international movements in 20th century art, such as Op Art, Kinetic Art and Concrete Art. The prints and sculpture multiples in this exhibition introduce viewers to some of the challenging modes of abstraction en vogue during the heady days of the late 1960s and early 70s. Works by Albers, from his portfolio Formulation: Articulation, explore the discrepancy between “physical fact and psychic effect” through our experience of linear illusions and the unexpected results of unusual color interaction. Victor Vasarely and Herbert Bayer, both masters of graphic design, push our optical experience of color to the extreme in their bold screen print compositions. A rare set of prints and sculpture multiples from Jésus Rafael Soto’s Jai Alai series round out the installation, offering viewers an experience of the relativity and dynamism of perception through two- and three-dimensional objects.
Herbert Bayer, Chromatic Twist, 1970, Screen print, Gift of Jerome Singer, 1979, MF79.22.6