Op art has a history and, in the mid-1960's, was a fashion. The two kinds of time, the historical past converging on the present to give it continuity and echoes, and the present as a wonderful party, never met. An explanation of this double focus, of the effect of two simultaneous worlds inaccessible to one another owing to different time rates, involves a problem of mid-century culture. William Seitz, whose exhibition "The Responsive Eye" at the Museum of Modern Art popularized Op Art, postponed an historical study to a later date and submitted, without much apparent pleasure, to what he called "the demands of the present." 1. Not only was he oppressed by the number of artists stylistically eligible, but also by the public interest: "It is a question whether any new movement, tendency, or style can withstand the public onslaught for long." 2. As this was written in a "preview" of his exhibition in Vogue, it can hardly be said that Mr. Seitz did much to cool it. What happened is that an inhabitant of one time-stream had become distractingly aware of the other and deplored the overlap.
The currency of the term Op Art, first printed in Time,3. was extraordinary. Through 1965 it was in common use in art, fashion, and humor magazines, and in the newspapers. For example, paintings with zigzags or concentric circles appeared in a New York store's ads as appropriate furniture for the young life. Harper's Bazaar,4. under the heading of "Op Scene," had dress descriptions like: "Black and brown dots getting the bends on white pique (it's all in the way you look at it)." Vogue returned to Op Art with a cover girl's head overprinted with a moiré pattern: "Pow! Op goes the Art. Op goes the fashion." 5.____________________