Date of Award

May 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Art History

First Advisor

Katharine Wells


Geometric Abstraction, Marko Spalatin, Op Art, Optical Art


Artist and printmaker Marko Spalatin (b. 1945) is known for his ability to capture the transitory optical effect of color and light through the interaction of geometric forms in space. His career developed from concepts of the 1960s Op art movement, which produced a heightened viewing experience of the work of art rather than focusing on content. This movement drew on modernism’s interests in breaking traditional academic definitions that viewed color as an extraneous addition, and shifted toward the depiction of color as having its own sense of form and dynamism. Spalatin established his style by creating highly colored surfaces that seem to reflect light off of dramatically telescoping shapes.

Spalatin’s “colorscapes,” illusionistic color landscapes, are dynamic spatial environments created through entirely abstract means. His depiction of color-reflecting forms in space was unique from the larger Op art movement, and shares concerns with late modernist painters who investigated spatial illusion through non-traditional means. A chronological exploration of Spalatin’s screenprint series highlights the artist’s placement within the larger modernist traditions through his use of color, light, and space and demonstrates the magnetic play between abstraction and illusion evident in his work. Spalatin’s vibrant realms invite the viewer into the pictorial space to explore his exceptional skill in depicting his form of geometric abstraction.