Bridget Riley (b.1931)

Biography

Born in London in 1931, Bridget Riley studied at Goldsmith's College and the Royal College of Art from 1949-1955.  Riley's early works consist of figural subjects and landscapes, often in an Impressionist style.  It was not until 1964, when she gave up her position as an illustrator at J. Walter Thompson advertising agency, that she began focusing mainly on exploring the elements of the optical phenomena or Op(tical) Art.

Riley's early Op Art works use black and white geometric shapes to form large-scale patterns.  The composition of the patterns allows the viewers' eyes to perceive movement, colour and depth on a static, colourless, two dimensional surface. 

Riley applied this technique to various mediums such as acrylic, screen prints, drawings and collage.

In 1965, Riley exhibited with Victor Vasarely, Jesús Soto, Yaacov Agam, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Julio Le Parc and François Morellet in the Museum of Modern Art's ground breaking exhibition, A Responsive Eye in New York.  This show brought international attention to the Op Art movement and to Riley as an influential contemporary artist and a leading artist of the genre.  Shortly after the exhibition, she was awarded a coveted Painting Prize at the 1968 Venice Bienniale, further solidifying her role in the contemporary scene.

Riley's work has made a gradual evolution from using black and white to a more rich and vibrant palette.  Today her work employs much more colour but stays firmly rooted in the patterns and strong perceptual and visual elements that characterize Op Art.  Throughout the past four decades, the market for Riley's work has continued to grow with her early canvases easily fetching seven figures at auction.  Her 2003 retrospective at the Tate Britain helped to strengthen her iconic status in the art world and her solo exhibitions continue to be seen in London and abroad as a testament to her popularity and enduring legacy. Victor Vasarely, Jesús Soto, Yaacov Agam, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Julio Le Parc and François Morellet in the Museum of Modern Art's ground breaking exhibition, A Responsive Eye in New York.  This show brought international attention to the Op Art movement and to Riley as an influential contemporary artist and a leading artist of the genre.  Shortly after the exhibition, she was awarded a coveted Painting Prize at the 1968 Venice Bienniale, further solidifying her role in the contemporary scene.

Riley's work has made a gradual evolution from using black and white to a more rich and vibrant palette.  Today her work employs much more colour but stays firmly rooted in the patterns and strong perceptual and visual elements that characterize Op Art.  Throughout the past four decades, the market for Riley's work has continued to grow with her early canvases easily fetching seven figures at auction.  Her 2003 retrospective at the Tate Britain helped to strengthen her iconic status in the art world and her solo exhibitions continue to be seen in London and abroad as a testament to her popularity and enduring legacy.

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