Bridget Riley – A study in movement and color

Architecture & Interiors

When I think about Art that I love, the list is long and always getting longer. There is no shortage of great artwork in studios, galleries, museums, public places, and private homes. The internet allows us to take a guest visit into somewhere else with the ability to look privately. Though it is never as good as the experience that you have standing in front of the artwork.

I implore you to look publicly, in person, with your eyeballs. 



Bridget Riley is an inspiration to me in her mastery of the simulation of movement in a static two-dimensional plane. As an added bonus to entice you to see them up close is that the longer you look, the better they get. The more physical they feel, like a mesmerizing presence.


This fabulous story by the Liverpool Daily Press highlights Riley's meetings with Caroline Douglas, the Arts Council's head of collections. When asked to describe Riley in 2009 she said, "She is 79 now but still as active and energetic and intellectually engaged as she ever was.” (Photo below taken in 1981.)


In a world usually dominated by men, Riley made a huge splash and dominated the OpArt movement working in black and white until 1966


when she turned to color. She catapulted to international art stardom in the mid 1960s when New York’s MOMA included her alongside Josef Albers (below)



Above: Ellsworth Kelly (Photo by Rex Features/Action Press)

in its 1965 exhibition "The Responsive Eye" and the fashion designer (and museum founder) Larry Aldrich printed knockoffs of her images on fabric for a popular dress collection. In 1968, she won the International Prize for painting at the 34th Venice Biennale. In 1983 she designed a mural of bands of blue, pink, white and yellow at the Royal Liverpool Hospital.


In an article by the artist "At the end of my pencil", Riley states, "My studies of the greys paved the way for the colour movement in Late Morning (1967-68). In that painting, I began in a very simple way to draw with colour. The blue to bright green movement is the form. At the core of colour lies a paradox. It is simultaneously one thing and several things – you can never see colour by itself, it is always affected by other colours. As a child one plays by lying on one’s back and filling one’s sight with the blue of the sky, only to find the blue goes slowly towards grey. Your own eye produced the after-image of yellow-orange to compensate for the intensity of the blue. Colour relationships in painting depend on the interactive character of colour; this is its essential nature. I had given up the complexity of form in my Black and White paintings, but I found that the principles that lay behind them – contrast, harmony, reversal, repetition, movement, rhythm etc – could be recast in colour and with a new freedom.”

People should really look hard at the paintings … and see the immense complexity of them. They’re not just
,” urges Caroline Douglas. 


Where to see Bridget Riley – with your eyeballs – in person.

Group Show: Colorscope: Abstract Painting 1960-1979

Santa Barbara Museum of Art,
1130 State Street, Santa
Barbara, CA 93101

Group Show: Optical Shift

06/27/1- 10/17/10

Im Stadtwald 2, 56410
Montabaur, Germany

Gwangju Biennale

San 149-2 Yongbong-dong Buk-gu, 500-070

Gwangju, Korea

Bridget Riley is represented by Karsten Schubert.

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  1. Pingback: Bridget Riley | VCE Studio Art

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