Several months ago at the TEFAF art fair in Maastricht, we already saw some Op-Art artworks including work by Carlos Cruz-Diez. Op-Art stands for Optical Art and emerged in the early 1960s. It is akin to Minimal Art and, to a lesser extent, Pop Art. Op-Art is characterized by optical illusions, often through subtle deviations in repetitive elements and patterns.
The exhibition Futures at the MSU in Zagreb contains artworks that can be categorized as Op-Art. Getulio Alviani who is known for sanding metal surfaces. With these, he created patterns of reflections that appear to the observer to change as you walk past them. Many Op-Art artworks invite moving viewing rather than standing still in front of the artwork. In doing so, they engage in a kinetic-spatial dialogue with the observer.
Another intriguing artwork in this exhibition is the Relief Meter by Vjenceslav Richter, Croatian architect, artist and designer. It consists of a large number of industrially produced aluminum rods that can be slid in and out relative to each other. This invites the observer to manipulate the artwork himself. The artwork is two-sided, the composition of the wavy series of rods shows its negative image on the other side.
Starting in the late 1950s, Otto Piene made so-called smoke images. These were created by burning and smoking solvents onto canvas. A smoke artwork from 1961 is part of the in the Futures exhibition. It is a simple deep black circle on a cream white surface. However, it looks more like a hole to another dimension. With the fading transition between dark and light, it has a sinister appeal. Otto Piene was founder of the Zero group that further included such radical and later influential artists at the time as Jean Tinguely, Piero Manzoni, Yves Klein and Lucio Fontana.