Bridget Riley

1931 · United Kingdom

Artist biography

Bridget Riley is a British abstract painter who is famous for her striking murals comprised of multiple stripes which create optical illusions for the viewer. She is renowned for her contributions to the field of Op Art, a movement which came to prominence in the United States in the 1960s. One of the most recognisable and influential artists working in the last century, Riley has created a number of temporary public murals in major institutions such as the Tate gallery in London and the Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris. She currently lives and works in both the United Kingdom and France.

Born in 1931 in London, Riley studied at Goldsmith’s College and the Royal Academy of Art. Her early work was figurative and took inspiration from Impressionist art, but by the 1960s she began to develop her own signature Op Art style. Her black and white geometric patterns explored the dynamism of sight and produced a disorienting effect on the eye, creating an illusion of movement and colour. Her early works, which comprised of a variety of geometric forms, were said at the time to induce sensations such as the feeling of sea sickness in viewers. Since 1961, she has employed a team of assistants to paint the final canvases of her work, whilst she meticulously plans the compositions. In 1967 Riley produced her first stripe painting, which would go on to form her famous signature style.

Although geometric in form, Riley’s work is ultimately inspired by nature. She views nature as a ‘dynamism of visual forces’ rather than a landscape, and takes inspiration from visual shapes over the sensory feeling of her surroundings. Riley also takes inspiration from particular places she has visited, as can be seen in her ‘Ka’ and ‘Ra’ series that she created following a trip to Egypt in 1980, which include a range of colours she dubbed her ‘Egypt palette’. Her abstract forms however represent the basics of European colour theory, which she took great inspiration from whilst travelling in Venice in the 1980s.

Riley is known in the public consciousness for her iconic black and white geometric works, and her art has been exhibited widely around the world in renowned institutions such as the Tate galleries in London and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. A major retrospective of her work was held at the Hayward Gallery in London from October 2019 to January 2020.

Bridget Riley

  • Exhibitions 18

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