Student Resource

Simple processes, complex outcomes coursework guide

Find out how artists have played with using a simple process over and over to create dazzling and complex artworks.

Optical illusion

Victor Vasarely pioneered what became known as Op Art – art works that play with the way our eyes resolve shapes and lines to create optical illusions of shape and movement with flat paint.

Bridget Riley is one of the best-known British Op Artists. Her monochrome (using only a single colour) works were particularly influential in the 1960s.

Repeating forms

Taking a simple form and repeating it can generate complex patterns and shapes.

Computers and algorithms can be put to use generating artworks through patterns and repetition. Other artworks run simple programs that produce effects based on the viewers’ movements.


Often artists leave instructions not just for computers, but for other humans. Who creates these complex works, from these simple instructions? Sol LeWitt emphasises the importance of the concept behind the work by taking himself out of the physical process: 'The idea becomes a machine that makes the art'

Further resources