OSA's Digital Library

Applied Optics

Applied Optics


  • Vol. 4, Iss. 11 — Nov. 1, 1965
  • pp: 1359–1369

Optical Art

Gerald Oster  »View Author Affiliations

Applied Optics, Vol. 4, Issue 11, pp. 1359-1369 (1965)

View Full Text Article

Enhanced HTML    Acrobat PDF (2821 KB)

Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Browse by Journal and Year


Lookup Conference Papers

Close Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Article Tools



The historical origins of optical art are traced. The features of the main techniques used by optical artists are discussed from a theoretical point of view. Such techniques include the juxtaposition of colors, three-dimensional projections, the use of optical components, and the application of the moiré technique. An optical theory of the appearance of edges based on the superposition of the after-image is presented. It is suggested that the highly geometrical figures of phosphenes can provide further inspiration for artists.

© 1965 Optical Society of America

Original Manuscript: June 2, 1965
Published: November 1, 1965

Gerald Oster, "Optical Art," Appl. Opt. 4, 1359-1369 (1965)

Sort:  Author  |  Year  |  Journal  |  Reset  


  1. J. Canaday, “Art that Pulses, Quivers and Fascinates”, The New York Times Magazine (21Feb.1965).
  2. B. Rose, “Beyond Vertigo: Optical Art at the Modern”, Art Forum (April1965).
  3. G. Oster in Quasi-Optics, J. Fox, ed. (Wiley-Interscience, New York, 1964), p. 59.
  4. City Art Museum, St. Louis, 20 May–20 June;Seattle Art Museum, 15 July–23 Aug.;Pasadena Art Museum, 25 Sept.–7 Nov.;Baltimore Museum of Art, 14 Dec.–23 Jan. (all 1965).
  5. W. C. Seitz, The Responsive Eye (Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1965).
  6. E. Delacroix, “On Art Criticism”, Revue de Paris (May 1829) (translation by W. Pach, the Marchbanks Press for Curt Valentin, New York, 1946).
  7. C. Yee, Chinese Calligraphy: An Introduction to Its Aesthetics and Technique (Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, 1954).
  8. M. Seuphor, Abstract Painting (reprinted by Dell, New York, 1964).
  9. W. Kandinsky, Point and Line to Plane (translation of the 1928 2nd ed.) (S. R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, 1947).
  10. W. Kandinsky, Concerning the Spiritual in Art (Wittenborn, Schultz, New York, 1947).
  11. R. L. Herbert, ed., Modern Artists on Art (Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1964).
  12. A. Ozenfant, Foundations of Modern Art (new American ed.) (Dover, New York, 1946).
  13. J. Rewald, Georges Seurat (Wittenborn, New York, 1946).
  14. H. Glück, E. Diez, Die Kunst des Islams (IM Propyläen-Verlag, Berlin, 1925).
  15. Leonardo da Vinci, Treatise on Painting, translated and edited by A. P. McMahon (Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, 1956).
  16. M. Chevreul, The Principles of Harmony and Contrast of Colors and Their Applications to the Arts (Bell, London, 1876), 3rd ed.
  17. O. N. Rood, Student’s Text-book of Color (Appleton, New York, 1881).
  18. J. Itten, The Art of Color (Reinhold, New York, 1961).
  19. D. Katz, The World of Color (Kegan Paul, London, 1935).
  20. J. Albers, Interaction of Color (Yale Univ. Press, New Haven, 1963).
  21. E. G. Boring, Sensation and Perception in the History of Experimental Psychology (Appleton-Century-Crafts, New York, 1942).
  22. R. M. Evans, An Introduction to Color (Wiley, New York, 1948).
  23. E. Heimendahl, Licht und Farbe (de Gruyter, Berlin, 1961). [CrossRef]
  24. M. Born, Naturwiss. 50, 29 (1963). [CrossRef]
  25. C. Lapicque, Essais sur l’espace, l’art et la destineé (Grosset, Paris, 1958).
  26. I. Meyerson, ed., Problemes de la Couleur (S.E.V.P.E.N., rue du Four, Paris, 1957).
  27. M. Erb, K. M. Dallenbach, Am. J. Psychol. 52, 227 (1939). [CrossRef]
  28. G. Oster, The Science of Moiré Patterns (Edmund Scientific Co., Barrington, N.J., 1964).This book is accompanied by a set of prints and transparencies to demonstrate the moiré technique.
  29. H. von Helmholtz, Treatise on Physiological Optics, 3rd ed., J. P. S. Southall, ed. (reprinted by Dover, New York, 1962).
  30. J. F. Hochberg, Perception (Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1964).
  31. M. Cagnet, M. Françon, J. C. Thrierr, Atlas of Optical Phenomena (Springer, Berlin, 1962).
  32. A. Huxley, Island (reprinted by Bantam Books, New York, 1963), p. 219.
  33. V. Ronchi, Appl. Opt. 3, 437 (1964). [CrossRef]
  34. J. S. Friedman, History of Color Photography (Amer. Photographic Publ. Co., Boston, Mass., 1947), Chap. 17.
  35. A. Righi, Nuovo Cimento 21, 203 (1887). [CrossRef]
  36. V. Ronchi, La Prova dei Sistemi Ottici (Nicola Zanichelli, Bologna, 1925), Chap. 9.
  37. G. Oster, M. Wasserman, C. Zwerling, J. Opt. Soc. Am. 54, 169 (1964). [CrossRef]
  38. G. Oster, J. Opt. Soc. Am. 55, 1329 (1965).
  39. Shown at the Howard Wise Gallery, New York, 5–27 Feb.1965.Accounts of this show are given in, for example, The New York Times (14Feb.1965, p. X17);The New Yorker (25Feb.1965, pp. 24–26);and The Village Voice (18Feb.1965, pp. 9–10).
  40. L. O. Vargardy, Appl. Opt. 3, 631 (1964). [CrossRef]
  41. R. Granit, in The Eye, H. Davson, ed. (Academic, New York, 1962), Vol. II.
  42. H. Davson, The Physiology of the Eye (Churchill, London, 1949).
  43. D. MacKay, Nature 181, 362 (1958). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  44. J. Keller, Trans. Inst. Radio Eng. AP-4, 312 (1956).
  45. M. Schapiro, Paul Cézanne (Abrams, New York, 1952).
  46. E. Mach, The Analysis of Sensation (translation of the 5th German ed.) (Open Court, Chicago, 1914), pp. 215–220.
  47. F. Ratliff, Mach Bands: Quantitative Studies on Neural Networks in the Retina (Holden-Day, San Francisco, 1965).
  48. G. Oster, in press.
  49. R. Arnheim, Art and Visual Perception (Univ. of California Press, Berkeley, 1954).
  50. K. Koffka, Principles of Gestalt Psychology (Harcourt Brace, New York, 1935).
  51. C. E. Osgood, Method and Theory in Experimental Psychology (Oxford Univ. Press, New York, 1953).
  52. J. E. Hochberg, V. Brooks, Am. J. Psychol. 73, 337 (1960). [CrossRef]
  53. D. F. Fender, Sci. Am. 211, 24 (July1964). [CrossRef]
  54. E. R. Jaensch, Eidetic Imagery (Harcourt Brace, New York, 1930).
  55. R. R. Holt, Am. Psychologist 19, 254 (1964). [CrossRef]
  56. M. Knoll, J. Kugler, Nature 184, 1823 (1959). [CrossRef]
  57. M. Knoll, J. Kugler, O. Höfer, S. D. Lawder, Confin. Neurol. 23, 201 (1963). [CrossRef]
  58. D. Solomon, LSD The Conciousness-Expanding Drug (Putnam’s Sons, New York, 1964).
  59. B. Julesz, Science 145, 356 (1964);Sci. Am. 213, 38 (Feb.1965). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  60. D. Hilbert, S. Cohn-Vossen, Geometry and the Imagination (translated from 1932 German ed.) (Chelsea, New York, 1952).

Cited By

Alert me when this paper is cited

OSA is able to provide readers links to articles that cite this paper by participating in CrossRef's Cited-By Linking service. CrossRef includes content from more than 3000 publishers and societies. In addition to listing OSA journal articles that cite this paper, citing articles from other participating publishers will also be listed.

Next Article »

OSA is a member of CrossRef.

CrossCheck Deposited