Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bridget Riley

I am not a big abstract art fan. Occasionally there is something I like but generally not a big fan. But I do like Bridget Riley's work. I first her paintings while I was still in my teens -early 70s I guess. The Museum of Modern Art had a special exhibit. Some- thing about it just fascinated me. Since then, I have tried to do similar drawings (mostly through doodling.)
Bridget Riley was born on April 24, 1931 in London and grew up in Cornwall. She began doing semi-impressionistic paintings, then in the late 50s did her version of pointillism (see Seurat). It was through studying Seurat that she became interested in optical effects. In 1960 she began doing studies in black and white and had her first solo exhibit in 1962. Her style of work was dubbed "Op-Art".
Her works give the viewer sensations of movement or color. In the 1960s it is said people would experience varied sensations such as seasickness or sky diving.
In 1967 Riley began to experiment with color with her
first stripe painting. And in the early 1980s, after a trip
to Egypt, she was inspired by the hieroglyphics and began
to explore color and contrast. Some these paintings use lines of color to give a shimmering sensation; in others she uses tessellating patterns. (also used by M.C. Escher in many of his works) At right Shadow Play (1990) an example of tessellation.
Here is a link to an interview she gave last year.
There is the question though - is this great art or is Bridget Riley a decorative artist. Personally I wouldn't put her up there with the greats. I find her paintings fun but she is no Monet. Here is a link to a discussion on this

Paintings shown: Top: Movement in Squares (1961); Above left: Brittania (1961);
Above right: Orphean Elegy I (1978)

Bridget Riley does not do her own painting. Would you believe she has others do it for her!

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