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Artists Bridget Riley
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Bridget Riley

British Painter

Movement: Op Art

Born: April 24, 1931 - London, UK

Bridget Riley Timeline

Quotes

"Fashion always plays a part in the art world, but when it gets the upper hand it spells a vacuum."
Bridget Riley
"The music of colour, that's what I want"
Bridget Riley
"The marks on the canvas are sole and essential agents in a series of relationships which form the structure of the painting."
Bridget Riley
"I always took care to learn from the past, to look carefully at what other painters had done and why, at how they got there."
Bridget Riley
"Contrast is a very basic principle of my work, but I use a mixture of colour harmonies and colour contrasts to activate effects."
Bridget Riley
"For me nature is not landscape, but the dynamism of visual forces."
Bridget Riley
"Painters have always needed a sort of veil upon which they can focus their attention. It's as though the more fully the consciousness is absorbed, the greater the freedom of the spirit behind."
Bridget Riley
"Painting is, I think, inevitably an archaic activity and one that depends on spiritual values."
Bridget Riley
"No painter, dead or alive, has ever made us more aware of our eyes than Bridget Riley."
Robert Melville, 1971

"I couldn't get near what I wanted through seeing, recognizing and recreating, so I stood the problem on its head. I started studying squares, rectangles, triangles and the sensations they give rise to."

Bridget Riley Signature

Synopsis

Bridget Riley's geometric paintings implore the viewer to reflect on how it physically feels to look. Her paintings of the 1960s became synonymous with the Op Art movement, which exploited optical illusions to make the two-dimensional surface of the painting seem to move, vibrate, and sparkle. Grounded in her own optical experiences and not color theories, math, or science, Riley experiments with structural units, such as squares, ovals, stripes, and curves in various configurations and colors to explore the physical and psychological responses of the eye. Her paintings inspired textile designs and psychedelic posters over the decades, but her objectives have always been to interrogate what and how we see and to provoke both uncertainty and clarity with her paintings.

Key Ideas

Steeped in the paintings of the Impressionist, Post-Impressionists, and the Futurists, Riley dissects the visual experience of the earlier modern masters without their reliance on figures, landscapes, or objects. Playing with figure/ground relations and the interactions of color, Riley presents the viewer with a multitude of dynamic, visual sensations.
Riley's formal compositions invoke feelings of tension and repose, symmetry and asymmetry, dynamism and stasis and other psychic states, making her paintings less about optical illusions and more about stimulating the viewer's imagination.
While Riley meticulously plans her compositions with preparatory drawings and collage techniques, it is her assistants who paint the final canvases with great precision. Riley creates a tension between the artist's subjective experience and the almost mechanical feeling of the surface of the painting.
Riley's artistic practice is grounded in a utopian, social vision. She views her art as an inherently social act, as the viewer completes the experience of the painting. This belief in an interactive art led her to resist the commercialization, and in her mind, the vulgarization of Op art by the fashion world.

Biography

Bridget Riley Photo

Childhood

Bridget Riley was born in Norwood, London. Her father, John Fisher Riley, was a printer and owned his own business. He relocated his firm and the family to Lincolnshire in 1938 and when the Second World War broke out a year later, he was drafted into the army. While on active duty, he was captured by the Japanese and forced to work on the Siamese railway. He survived, but Riley remembers he was never the same. She recalls how "he had learned to live in a self-contained way, to isolate himself from what was around him."

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Bridget Riley Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Bridget Riley
Interactive chart with Bridget Riley's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Henri MatisseHenri Matisse
Jackson PollockJackson Pollock
Victor VasarelyVictor Vasarely
Paul CézannePaul Cézanne
Georges SeuratGeorges Seurat

Personal Contacts

Peter BlakePeter Blake
Frank AuerbachFrank Auerbach
Richard Allen

Movements

Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism
Post-ImpressionismPost-Impressionism
FuturismFuturism

Influences on Artist
Bridget Riley
Bridget Riley
Years Worked: 1960s - present
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Richard AnuszkiewiczRichard Anuszkiewicz
Howard HodgkinHoward Hodgkin

Personal Contacts

EH Gombrich

Movements

Op ArtOp Art

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Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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