Riley’s Op Art

Bridget Riley, the celebrated British artist, opens two shows in London this week, celebrating the 50 year anniversary of her first commercial show.  She is most well known for her dizzying, patterned paintings that gave birth to a movement called “Op Art”.  By juxtaposing different colors or black and white against one another she is able to create the illusion that her work is flickering, pulsating or moving.  

Inspired by Seurat’s pointillist paintings, Riley took the jump into complete geometric abstraction, forgoing any attempts to depict objects or even space. What she revealed was a pathway into the mysteries of seeing, or how the brain processes what the eye beholds.  Op-Art blew up in the late sixties, at the same time as psychedelia and mod culture. Her work is deeply influential in the worlds of fashion, advertising, design and to this day, GIFs.  

“I couldn’t get near what I wanted through seeing, recognizing and recreating, so I stood the problem on its head. I started studying squares, rectangles, triangles and the sensations they give rise to… It is untrue that my work depends on any literary impulse or has any illustrative intention. The marks on the canvas are sole and essential agents in a series of relationships which form the structure of the painting.”  - Bridget Riley 

See her shows at:

Karsten Schubert 
5-8 Lower John Street 
Golden Square 
London W1F 9DR

Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert
38 Bury Street
St James’s
London SW1Y 6BB

The Telegraph, “Bridget Riley: Works 1960-1966, review”

Op Art - Art History 101 Basics