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Bridget Riley with her Op Art, 1963
(photo by Ida Kar, 1908-1974)
Notes from WIKIPEDIA

"Bridget Louise Riley (born 1931 in Norwood, London) is an English painter who is one of the foremost proponents of Op art. She currently lives and works in London, Cornwall, and France.

"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.

"From 1961 to 1964 she worked with the contrast of black and white, occasionally introducing tonal scales of grey. Works in this style comprised her first solo show in London in 1962 at Gallery One run by Victor Musgrave, as well as numerous subsequent shows. For example, in Fall, a single perpendicular curve is repeated to create a field of varying optical frequencies.

Untitled, Fragment 5
by Bridget Riley, 1965

"Visually, these works relate to many concerns of the period: a perceived need for audience participation (this relates them to the Happenings, 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'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.[9] Her paintings have, since 1961, been executed by assistants from her own endlessly edited studies. [...]

"Following a visit to Egypt in 1980–81 Riley created colours in what she called her 'Egyptian palette' and produced works such as the Ka and Ra series, which capture the spirit of the country, ancient and modern, and reflect the colours of the Egyptian landscape.[16] Towards the end of the 1980s Riley's work underwent a dramatic change with the reintroduction of the diagonal in the form of a sequence of parallelograms used to disrupt and animate the vertical stripes that had characterized her previous paintings."

by Nancy G. Heller

"One popular approach to Post-Painterly Abstraction was Op (for "optical") art: abstract paintings that juxtapose vivid colors or black, white and gray, in patterns that seem to vibrate in the viewer's eye. Bridget Riley is one of the acknowledged masters of Op art. Using just a few simple colors and shapes, she manages to create the illusion of three dimensions and motion where neither exists.

"Movement in Squares" by Bridget Riley (1981)

"[...] After studying the optical effects of the Neo-Impressionist Georges Seurat, in 1960 Riley began to make the extremely precise pictures for which she is known today. Her participation in The Responsive Eye, a 1965 show at the Museum of Modern Art, earned Riley an international reputation. Although Op Art went out of fashion very quickly, Riley's work continued to fascinate viewers because of its imperceptible technique and sophisticated compositions."

Comment by Bridget Riley

"No matter what I do it will be subjective, and so to develop as much objectivity as I can, is simply counter-balancing this inevitable presence of myself in the work. De-personalization is, I think, a bogus hue and cry. When I was teaching children in classes of twenty or thirty I found that however much one set them a common problem, each child provided a different solution. I never found a uniformity of solution however strictly the problem was proposed. So I feel that if a group of artists were commissioned to make a series of paintings using triangles, every one of these works would be different because the decisions would have been taken by different people. It's the decisions that are important factors [....] But you must have something to decide about."

(includes oversize color reproductions)
by Margaret Barlow

"It was its effect on the eye, not on the soul, that made Op Art wildly popular in the 1960s. The British artist Bridget Riley's (b. 1931) tense early compositions were hard to look at — and even harder to look away from. The artist, formerly trained, and citing influences as diverse as Piero della Francesca, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Umberto Bucciioni and Georges Seurat, has said that she is concerned with 'principles of repose and disturbance.' Swelling or wavy lines, or circles, squares, or triangular units shift and split, causing an almost hallucinatory eperience. Riley initially worked in black and white, but later added color: her paintings continue to evolve with a combination of a great deal of planning and discovery, as the artist plays with forces against one another to bring forth the desired yet serrendipitous perception, energy, intensity, structure and movement."

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See also: Op Art in Quilt Designs