Bridget Riley

Bridget Riley

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For the boxer, see Bridgett Riley
Bridgett Riley
Bridgett Riley is a female boxer and motion picture stuntwoman from Oakville, Missouri. While working as a stewardess for an airline she decided to learn martial arts. The interest in the sport came from her brother Patrick's strong interest in mixed martial arts. She trained with her brother and...

.

Bridget Louise Riley CH
Order of the Companions of Honour
The Order of the Companions of Honour is an order of the Commonwealth realms. It was founded by King George V in June 1917, as a reward for outstanding achievements in the arts, literature, music, science, politics, industry or religion....

 CBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

 (born 24 April 1931 in Norwood
West Norwood
West Norwood is a place in the London Borough of Lambeth.It is primarily a residential suburb of south London but with some light industry near Knights Hill in the south....

, London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

) is an English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 painter
Painting
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

 who is one of the foremost proponents of Op art
Op art
Op art, also known as optical art, is a style of visual art that makes use of optical illusions."Optical art is a method of painting concerning the interaction between illusion and picture plane, between understanding and seeing." Op art works are abstract, with many of the better known pieces made...

.

Early life


Riley was born in London and spent her childhood in Cornwall
Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

 and Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire is a county in the east of England. It borders Norfolk to the south east, Cambridgeshire to the south, Rutland to the south west, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire to the west, South Yorkshire to the north west, and the East Riding of Yorkshire to the north. It also borders...

. She was educated at Cheltenham Ladies' College
Cheltenham Ladies' College
The Cheltenham Ladies' College is an independent boarding and day school for girls aged 11 to 18 in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England.-History:The school was founded in 1853...

. She studied art
Art
Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect....

 first at Goldsmiths College
Goldsmiths College
Goldsmiths, University of London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom which specialises in the arts, humanities and social sciences, and a constituent college of the federal University of London. It was founded in 1891 as Goldsmiths' Technical and Recreative Institute...

 (1949–52), and later at the Royal College of Art
Royal College of Art
The Royal College of Art is an art school located in London, United Kingdom. It is the world’s only wholly postgraduate university of art and design, offering the degrees of Master of Arts , Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy...

 (1952–55), where her fellow students included artists Peter Blake
Peter Blake (artist)
Sir Peter Thomas Blake, KBE, CBE, RDI, RA is an English pop artist, best known for his design of the sleeve for the Beatles' album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. He lives in Chiswick, London, UK.-Career:...

 and Frank Auerbach
Frank Auerbach
Frank Helmut Auerbach is a painter born in Germany although he has been a naturalised British citizen since 1947.-Biography:Auerbach was born in Berlin, the son of Max Auerbach, a patent lawyer, and Charlotte Nora Burchardt, who had trained as an artist...

. Her early work was figurative with a semi-impressionist style. Around 1960 she began to develop her signature Op Art style consisting of black and white geometric patterns that explore the dynamism of sight and produce a disorienting effect on the eye.

Early in her career, Riley worked as an art teacher from 1957-58 at the Convent of the Sacred Heart, Harrow (now known as Sacred Heart Language College). Later she worked at the Loughborough School of Art
Loughborough University
Loughborough University is a research based campus university located in the market town of Loughborough, Leicestershire, in the East Midlands of England...

 (1959), Hornsey College of Art
Hornsey College of Art
Hornsey College of Art is a former college centred in Crouch End, London, England. Since 2008, the building has been a part of Coleridge Primary School, upon its expansion to four form entry...

, and Croydon College of Art (1962–64). She also worked as an illustrator for the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency prior to giving it up in 1964.

In 1968 Riley, with Peter Sedgley and Peter Townsend, created the artists' organization SPACE (Space Provision Artistic Cultural and Educational), with the goal of providing artists large and affordable studio space.

Career


Riley's mature style, developed during the 1960s, was influenced by a number of sources.

It was during this time that Riley began to paint the black and white works for which she is well known. They present a great variety of geometric forms that produce sensations of movement or colour. In the early 1960s, her works were said to induce sensations in viewers as varied as seasickness and sky diving. Works in this style comprised her first solo show in London in 1962 at Gallery One run by Victor Musgrave
Victor Musgrave
Victor Musgrave was a British poet, art dealer and curator. Described by David Sylvester as a 'true pioneer' Musgrave was the first gallerist to show Bridget Riley and was a champion of Art Brut...

, as well as numerous subsequent shows. Visually, these works relate to many concerns of the period: a perceived need for audience participation (this relates them to the Happening
Happening
A happening is a performance, event or situation meant to be considered art, usually as performance art. Happenings take place anywhere , are often multi-disciplinary, with a nonlinear narrative and the active participation of the audience...

s, for which the period is famous), challenges to the notion of the mind-body duality which led some people to experiment with hallucinogenic drugs (see Aldous Huxley
Aldous Huxley
Aldous Leonard Huxley was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. Best known for his novels including Brave New World and a wide-ranging output of essays, Huxley also edited the magazine Oxford Poetry, and published short stories, poetry, travel...

's writings); concerns with a tension between a scientific future which might be very beneficial or might lead to a nuclear war; and fears about the loss of genuine individual experience in a Brave New World.


International career


In 1965, Riley exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art
Museum of Modern Art
The Museum of Modern Art is an art museum in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, on 53rd Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. It has been important in developing and collecting modernist art, and is often identified as the most influential museum of modern art in the world...

 in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 show, The Responsive Eye (created by curator William C. Seitz); the exhibition which first drew worldwide attention to her work and the Op Art
Op art
Op art, also known as optical art, is a style of visual art that makes use of optical illusions."Optical art is a method of painting concerning the interaction between illusion and picture plane, between understanding and seeing." Op art works are abstract, with many of the better known pieces made...

 movement. Her painting Current, 1964, was reproduced on the cover of the show's catalogue. Riley became disillusioned with Op because her work was exploited for commercial purposes.

Riley began investigating colour in 1967, the year in which she produced her first stripe painting. Following a major retrospective in the early 1970s, Riley began travelling extensively.

After a trip to Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 in the early 1980s, where she was inspired by colourful hieroglyphic decoration,
Riley began to explore colour and contrast.

In some works, lines of colour are used to created a shimmering effect, while in others the canvas is filled with tessellating
Tessellation
A tessellation or tiling of the plane is a pattern of plane figures that fills the plane with no overlaps and no gaps. One may also speak of tessellations of parts of the plane or of other surfaces. Generalizations to higher dimensions are also possible. Tessellations frequently appeared in the art...

 patterns. Typical of these later colourful works is Shadow Play.

In 1968, Riley represented Great Britain in the Venice Biennale
Venice Biennale
The Venice Biennale is a major contemporary art exhibition that takes place once every two years in Venice, Italy. The Venice Film Festival is part of it. So too is the Venice Biennale of Architecture, which is held in even years...

. She was the first British contemporary painter, and the first woman, to be awarded the prestigious International Prize for painting.

In many works since this period, Riley has employed others to paint the pieces, while she concentrates on the actual design of her work

.

Bridget Riley is represented by Karsten Schubert
Karsten Schubert
Karsten Schubert is an artists' representative and gallery proprietor working in England.-Karsten Schubert Limited:Karsten Schubert ran Karsten Schubert Limited, initially in collaboration, and with the backing of, Richard Salmon, from 1986 to 1991...

 in London who is her main agent. The Pace Gallery
Pace Gallery
The Pace Gallery is a New York City-based exhibition space. It was founded in 1960 in Boston by Arne Glimcher.-PaceWildenstein:From 1993 until April 1, 2010, the gallery became "PaceWildenstein," a joint business venture between the Pace Gallery and Wildenstein & Co....

 in New York & Green on Red Gallery in Dublin.

The nature and role of the artist


Riley made the following comments regarding artistic work, in her lecture Painting Now, 23rd William Townsend Memorial Lecture, Slade School of Art, London, 26 November 1996:
When Samuel Beckett
Samuel Beckett
Samuel Barclay Beckett was an Irish avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre director, and poet. He wrote both in English and French. His work offers a bleak, tragicomic outlook on human nature, often coupled with black comedy and gallows humour.Beckett is widely regarded as among the most...

 was a young man in the early 1930s, and trying to find a basis from which he could develop, he wrote an essay known as 'Beckett/Proust' (1931), in which he examined Proust's views of creative work; and he quotes Proust's artistic credo as declared in Time Regained – "the task and duty of a writer [not an artist, a writer] are those of a translator". This could also be said of a composer, a painter or anyone practising an artistic métier. An artist is someone with a text which he or she wants to decipher.

Beckett interprets Proust as being convinced that such a text cannot be created or invented but can only be discovered within the artist himself, and that it is, as it were, almost a law of his own nature. It is his most precious possession, and, as Proust explains, the source of his innermost happiness. However, as can be seen from the practice of the great artists, although the text may be strong and durable and able to support a lifetime's work, it cannot be taken for granted and there is no guarantee of permanent possession. It may be mislaid or even lost, and retrieval is very difficult. It may lie dormant, and be discovered late in life after a long struggle, as with Mondrian
Piet Mondrian
Pieter Cornelis "Piet" Mondriaan, after 1906 Mondrian , was a Dutch painter.He was an important contributor to the De Stijl art movement and group, which was founded by Theo van Doesburg. He evolved a non-representational form which he termed Neo-Plasticism...

 or Proust himself. Why it should be that some people have this sort of text while others do not, and what 'meaning' it has, is not something which lends itself to argument. Nor is it up to the artist to decide how important it is, or what value it has for other people. To ascertain this is perhaps beyond even the capacities of an artist's own time.

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