School of Paris abstract painter, designer and maker of screenprints. Born at Pécs in Hungary. Studied in Budapest at the Podolini-Volkmann Academy, then at the Mühely school of graphic arts run by Alexander Bortnyik in the tradition of the Bauhaus. Moved to Paris in 1930. Worked 1930-40 as a commercial artist, mainly designing posters. Marked interest in trompe-l'oeil effects, graphic patterns and space illusions. From 1944 devoted himself exclusively to painting. First one-man exhibition at the Galerie Denise René, Paris, 1944, with restless conflicting patterns incorporating zebras, chessboards, etc. Decided in 1947 to concentrate on constructive-geometric abstraction. Pioneered Op art in the later 1950s with compositions based on a continual aggressive interaction between different kinds of pattern, and invented a plastic alphabet of standardised colours, shapes, etc., which could be used in a wide range of permutations and would lend itself to endless reproduction. Designed screenprints and tapestries. Awarded the Grand Prix jointly with Burri at the 1965 São Paulo Bienal and one of four equal main prizes for painting at the 1967 Pittsburgh International. Founded a museum of his own work at the Château de Gordes in 1970 and a Fondation Vasarely at Aix-en-Provence 1976. Has lived since 1961 at Annet-sur-Marne.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.743-4