Musings about early retirement with no fixed address

Vasarely Museum In Budapest

Victor Vasarely is a Hungarian artist whose work is focused on visual perception and spatial layout. Some call him the Grandfather of the Op Art movement (short for optical art). He’s quite famous here in Hungary, with a museum dedicated to his art in Budapest and another in Pécs. Katie and I recently visited the Vasarely Museum in Budapest and found it fascinating. I love art that challenges my perceptions, and Vasarely knows how to do just that.

The museum is not in the heart of the city, so I think it gets missed by many tourists. It’s located approximately 3 miles (4.7km) north of downtown along the Danube, which took us about an hour to walk. There is public transit, but it’s hard to forgo a stroll along the Danube. It’s also only open on weekends (Fri-Sun). Due to the location and limited hours, the admission fee is a pittance. For only 1400 HUF each, or about $4.50, we were able to see works that spanned the entire Vasarely portfolio in an awesome setting. 

A self portrait

Within the museum there are multiple spatial displays that change in perception as you move around them. I wasn’t able to capture those on camera, so visitors should expect an even better experience than I’m about to present. But even without the extras, I think it’ll still be enjoyable.

Those black squares change as you move around them. There were other such visual objects too.

The ground floor of the museum is dedicated to Vasarely’s beginnings. As a young man, Victor found work in advertising. He also made a number of drawings where his personal artistic style was starting to emerge. I tried to leave the information label in most pictures to provide some sense of scale.

Above are very early drawings in Vasarely’s portfolio. As he gained experience, he began to experiment more with space, colors, and optical illusions to find his own style.

After perusing his beginnings, a staircase takes us to his most famous art on the first floor (second floor for the American readers). Here, his use of shapes and color really starts to shine. Many of these pieces are huge, spanning at least 6 feet x 6 feet (2 meters x 2 meters) so it’s a very immersive experience in person. It’s like the art is just jumping off of the wall. Note that despite what your eyes may tell you, all of these are two dimensional paintings.

If I’m forced to choose, I’d pick this one as my favorite. It’s so big and the depth is incredible.
I loved the building and setting as well
This is a 10 feet tall rug. The only one on display.

In person, Vasarely’s artwork tends to just suck me in. It feels like each display is reaching out to me. The amount of depth created in this 2D art makes my eyes question reality. And believe it or not, none of these pieces were done on a computer. It was all hand drawn and created.

Only two of these are from Victor, whereas the other four are from his son. So the Vasarely stylistic influence continues.

Overall, both Katie and I quite enjoyed the couple of hours we spent messing with our depth perception. The Vasarely Museum doesn’t showcase your typical art, but there’s plenty of that around. Finding these unique contributions to the art world (like the Batik Museum in Penang) are some of our most enjoyable days. It’s absolutely worth a stop if you’re visiting Budapest.

6 Comments

  1. Geekstreamers

    Wow! What a cool space! The perspective and geometric shapes is so trippy! Definitely adding to the list! Thanks for sharing!

    • Eric

      Yeah, it’s a fun time. Even better in person!

  2. Skip

    Just another benefit of slower travel. You find these gems that others tend to miss. I remember enjoying this type of art as a kid. I recall having a coloring book with images like this. I think it was meant to be an adult coloring book, but I had a knack for picking out unusual things when the parents gave me a choice. Thanks for sharing.

    • Eric

      Hi Skip – glad you enjoyed it.

  3. Paula

    I’m glad you explained that these art works were actually done by hand and not a computer! It’s hard to believe someone has these designs in their head. I can’t even imagine! I’m glad you did a separate blog for this place. It’s awesome to see all the art from all the different places that you visit. Talent comes from all over the world!

    • Eric

      Hi Paula,
      I like being able to post things like this too. Some museums frown on pictures, or the actual art doesn’t photograph well. Or what we’re seeing is so well known that it doesn’t feel like I’m adding anything new. Unique places like this are definitely fun to visit and share.

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