Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Born 1931: Bridget Riley, English

Bridget Riley is a British painter who is the most famous practitioner of Op Art, rivalled only by Victor Vasarely. Her images produce intense sensations of movement and color that engage the viewer in the experience of viewing.

Background: Bridget's father was a printer; her mother was well-read and unconventional. Bridget was born in London, but grew up in Cornwall, a scenic area on the tip of the peninsula of Great Britain, where she was greatly influenced by the changing light on the ocean, cloud formations, and other natural phenomena.

Training: Drawing and painting were the center of her life from an early age, and Bridget studied at the Royal College of Art in the early 1950s. She graduated with a BA degree in 1955.

Instead of commencing her career, Bridget spent two years nursing her father, who had been seriously injured in a car accident. The following year she suffered a mental breakdown herself.

Career: Bridget started her career around 1959, after she recovered from her breakdown. First she worked as an art teacher and later for an advertising agency.

Bridget developed her signature Op Art style around 1960. Her entire career has been devoted to painting designs that create optical sensations and the illusion of motion, exploring one visual trick after another.

In 1965, Bridget's paintings came to international notice when she exhibited alongside Victor Vasarely and others at the Museum of Modern Art in New York at an exhibition called "The Responsive Eye." One of Riley's paintings was featured on the cover of the exhibition catalogue

Op art captured the imagination of the public and became a part of the swinging sixties. The fashion, design and advertising industries fell in love with its graphic value, and Bridget Riley soon became Britain's number one art celebrity.

Demand for Bridget’s artwork peaked in the 1970s, but crumbled the following decade. Riley continued to create new illusions, each trickier and more marvelous than the last, and her reputation gradually made a resurgence. At present, her work is readily found in museums in the U.S. as well as the U.K.

Personal life: When Bridget was about 25, and had just finished her art degree, her father was involved in a serious traffic accident. Bridget spent the next couple of years caring for him.

At the end of that period, Bridget had a nervous breakdown that led to 6 months in a sanitarium.

In 1961, when Bridget was 30, she and an another Op artist, named Peter Sedgley, founded S.P.A.C.E. (Space Provision, Artistic, Cultural and Educational), a scheme for providing studio space for young artists that continues to the present.

She and Peter Sedgley were living together when they founded S.P.A.C.E. but he went on to marry someone else. After that, her biography is told entirely as career milestones.

Bridget Riley in 2012, age 71

My photos of Bridget's work:

We saw quite a good exhibit of Riley's work in The Hague.

Blaze 1, 1962
Metropolitan / Jan's photo, 2015

White Discs 2, 1964
Gementemuseum / Jan's photo, 2015

Current, 1964
Photo by Dan L. Smith, 2006

Shuttle II, 1964
Wadsworth / Jan's photo, 2013

Descending, 1965
Gementemuseum / Jan's photo, 2015

Arrest 2, 1965
Nelson-Atkins / Jan's photo, 2010

Rise 2, 1970
Dallas / Jan's photo, 2012

Vein, 1985
Albright-Knox / Jan's photo, 2012

Blue About, 2002
Photo by Dan L. Smith

Two Yellows, Composition with Circles 7, 2011
Gementemuseum / Jan's photo, 2015

Orange Paired, 2013

Internet Examples:

Intake, 1964

Nataraja, 1993

Fold, 2004