In a mash of collaborations between art, fashion, and technology, the Selfridges department store in London has partnered with fashion brand Paco Rabanne and Fondation Vasarely to present “Universe,” a physical exhibition and NFT and metaverse venture marking the 25th anniversary of the death of famed Op artist Victor Vasarely.
The collaboration to mount this exhibition comes after Paco Rabanne creative director Julien Dossena used several of Vasarely’s trippy geometric patterns as the basis for the brand’s Spring Summer 2022 collection, which was unveiled last June and is now being released for purchase. Running from January 13 to March 31, the department store will display 55 works by the French-Hungarian artist within its 24 store-front windows and in other spaces throughout the store are decked out in Vasarely’s designs.
In a statement, Selfridges executive buying and merchandising director Sebastian Manes said, “As Selfridges looks to the future, we continue to find inspiration in the past. … I love the idea of bringing Vasarely’s art to a social space like Selfridges— alongside the distinct identity of Paco Rabanne—and using their vision as way to bring emotion, connection and accessibility to the experience.”
Over half of these works will be available for purchase. Additionally, 12 NFTs of Vasarely’s work and 12 NFTs of Paco Rabanne’s Vasarely-inspired designs, will also be available. Proceeds from the sales will benefit the Fondation Vasarely to support restorations and large-scale installations.
Vasarely was a pioneer of optical art, or Op art, which focused on illusions and visual tricks that make two-dimensional works appear to pulsate or extend into a third dimension. Interest in his graphic work was strong throughout much of the mid-20th century, peaking with his inclusion in the groundbreaking 1965 Op art exhibition “The Responsive Eye” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Renewed interest in Vasarely’s work has continued to mount after the Centre Pompidou in Paris organized a major retrospective of his work in 2019.
For further engagement, “Universe” includes a metaverse twist. A virtual reality environment on Decentraland, an open-source, 3-D virtual world platform, has been set up so visitors can interact with Vasarely’s optical illusions in a dimension even a futurist like Vasarely could never have imagined.
In a statement, Fondation Vasarely president Pierre Vasarely said, “Coinciding with the 25th anniversary of his death, Universe is a unique opportunity to introduce his work to a new audience and we’re delighted to be able to bring together examples of his iconic designs from across his career, including works on canvas, ceramics and tapestries which showcase the extent of his artistic universe.”