Jeffrey Steele, pioneer of Op Art, 1931-2021

Jeffrey Steele, Seven Rows of Eleven Square forms in Cinematic Rotation, 1961, tempera on paper. Courtesy Osborne Samuel, London

Jeffrey Steele, the British artist credited as a pioneer of Op Art, has died. Steele came to fore in the 1960s, with his black-and-white geometric abstraction designed to provide a sense of movement on the canvas. His work was included in the seminal MoMA show The Responsive Eye.

By the 1970s Steele moved away from Op Art however, introducing colour to his painting and co-founding the Systems Group, whose work was constructed from basic geometric forms brought together in accordance to a pre-determined and often mathematical formula.

His work was the subject of seventeen solo exhibitions, the first at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, in 1961, and shown in over 100 group exhibitions, including Cybernetic Serendipity curated by Jasia Reichardt, also at the ICA, in 1968. Paintings and drawings by Steele are held in collections of the Tate, the British Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff, Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and Arts Council England. For many years the artist also taught at Portsmouth School of Art.

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