Painting: Op's Top

"The whole of my life and work has been and is consecrated to the modern city," says Victor Vasarely, 59, France's great academician of op art. "For me, there is nothing more beautiful than New York, especially at night." Inevitably it follows that Vasarely lives in immaculate seclusion behind iron gates on a wooded estate at Annet-sur-Marne, 20 miles from Paris—and refused to journey to Manhattan even for the opening of his current show at the Sidney Janis Gallery.

Paradox is at the core of Vasarely's throbbing vistas of geometry; it creates the tension that gives them vibrancy and verve....