Encyclopedia of Color Science and Technology

Living Edition
| Editors: Ronnier Luo

Optical Art

  • Zena O’ConnorEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27851-8_241-1



Optical art (or op art) was an art movement that emerged in the mid-twentieth century as an extension of the pop and conceptual art movements. It exploits the mechanics of human visual perception to create imagery in the viewer’s mind. Op artists used line, shape, flat planes of color, and a two-dimensional format to create works that appear three dimensional and occasionally convey a sense of movement.


Optical or op art emerged as an extension of the pop art and conceptual art movements, both of which represented the transition from modernism to postmodernism, during the middle of the twentieth century. From a theoretical perspective, modernism rejected the accepted and established art forms but eventually became formulaic, prescriptive, and predictable, while in response, postmodernism became characterized by a more pluralistic, eclectic, diverse, and somewhat more unpredictable approach to art.

Op art “exploits the workings of...


Visual Illusion Graphic Design Dark Contrast Color Palette Flat Plane 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Fine ArtUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia