Vasarely delivered one of the most important pieces of his career when he created Zebra, a painting inscribed in Op-art movement. The first version of this artwork had been made 30 years before the Op-art concept was conceived; however, it is considered to be a part of this movement. The last version of Zebra was created in 1965.
Between 1939 and 1948, Vasarely laid out the fundamentals of Op-art in his early works. He was focused on studying the use of lines, the interaction between shadow and light, and the creation of perspective. Vasarely once affirmed: “The celebrated transition from the representational to nonrepresentational art is only one of the stages of profound transformation taking place in the plastics arts. The term ‘abstract’ in painting refers not to an established fact, but to an irresistible trend towards plastic creation different from the kind we already know.”
Zebra can be apprehended as a study of shape, contrasts, and optical illusions. It seems like Vasarely picked the adequate animal for representing in one of the firsts pieces of the Op-art movement. In Zebra from 1937, the animals pose in front of a white background, and the contrast is obvious. Even though the background color is different, the same effect occurs with the Zebra from 1965. The stripes of the animal mesh with the background (especially in the 1965 piece) because the drawing doesn’t have borders. Also, curvilinear stripes of the zebras create an illusion of movement, playing with the awareness of the human eye.