Encyclopedia of Color Science and Technology

2016 Edition
| Editors: Ming Ronnier Luo

Optical Art

  • Zena O’ConnorEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-8071-7_241



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...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. 1.
    Bird, M.: One Hundred Ideas that Changed Art. Laurence King, London (2012)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Sandbrook, D.: White Heat: A History of Britain in the Swinging Sixties. Little, Brown, London (2006)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    MoMA (Museum of Modern Art, New York): MoMA press release – the responsive eye. http://www.moma.org/pdfs/docs/press_archives/3439/releases/MOMA_1965_0015_14.pdf?2010 (1965). Accessed 10 Mar 2010
  4. 4.
    Garner, P.: Sixties Design. Taschen, Koln (1996)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Glancey, J.: Modern: A Portfolio of Contemporary Interior Design Styles. Mitchell Beazley, London (2000)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    McDermott, C.: Twentieth-Century Design. Viking, London (1997)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Raizman, D.: History of Modern Design. Laurence King, London (2003)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Sparke, P.: A Century of Design: Design Pioneers of the 20th Century. Mitchell Beazley, London (1998)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Architecture, Design and PlanningUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia