“Painting is a science pursued as an enquiry into the laws of nature… Observation is considered the key to natural science.”
Born in London in 1931, Bridget Riley is one of the most important artists in the world, and renowned for being a pioneer of the Op Art movement. Her dedication to the interaction of colour and form has led to a continued exploration of perception. Riley’s iconic compositions have been engaging viewers since the 1960s and her unique approach has proved timeless.
Riley first studied at Goldsmiths College from 1949 – 52 and later at the Royal College of Art from 1952 – 55. Her career began with creating figurative works that tended towards Impressionism and experimenting with Pointillism. In 1959, she painted a copy of George Seurat’s – one of her idols – ‘Bridge of Courbevoie’ in order to better understand his use of perception and colour. This process was transformative to her practice.
“For me nature is not landscape, but the dynamism of visual forces – an event rather than an appearance. These forces can only be tackled by treating colour and form as ultimate identities”
Bridget Riley: The Eye’s Mind, Collected Writings 1965-1999
Riley’s astonishing murals, paintings and prints explore the fundamental nature of perception. Through her observations of the natural world and her own experimentation, she has made a deep, personal investigation of the act of painting, and of how we see.
Her first solo exhibitions were held at Gallery One, London, in 1962 and 1963, followed by two exhibitions at Robert Fraser Gallery, London, in 1966 and 1967. In 1965, her work was included in the seminal group exhibition The Responsive Eye, organized by William Seitz at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. In 1968, she represented Great Britain at the 34th Venice Biennale, where she was the first living British painter to win the prestigious International Prize for Painting.
Work by the artist is included in museum and public collections worldwide, including the Art Institute of Chicago; Arts Council, UK; New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; Nationalgalerie, Berlin; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and Tate, London.
In 2019 a long awaited major retrospective exhibition opened at the Scottish National Gallery, before moving to the Hayward Gallery, London. The exhibition celebrated Riley’s incredible contribution to art history, furthering her unrivalled reputation whilst introducing her work to a new generation.
Above Image: Bridget Riley, Studio Portrait, 1963 by Romano Cagnoni