Bridget Riley

I have a new header image by the British Op Art artist, Bridget Riley (born 1931). This week I have been reading some old catalogue notes from the excellent exhibition at Compton Verney in Warwickshire in 2017, ‘Seurat  To Riley: The Art Of Perception’. It reminded me how the handling of perspective changed in the twentieth century. After five hundred years of single point Brunelleschian perspective based on the vanishing point, artists started reconsidering how we see images in two dimensions. 


Massacio, The Trinity, 1428, Santa Maria Novella, Florence showing Brunelleschian architectural perspective.

The main thrust of single point is recession into the plane of the painting, as with Masaccio, in a very architectural way (Brunelleschi being primarily an architect). Very few artists managed the reverse of bringing art out of the picture plane to the space between the painting and the spectator. This has been the realm of modern art; cubism and much abstract work.

Riley, probably the best known British abstract artist has mastered this feat majoring in the Op Art phenomenon. Stand in front of a Bridget Riley work and let the brain try to bring the work under control while the eye continually deceives it. Fall, 1963 is a wonderful example which this media does not do full justice being nearly five feet by five feet. The simple black and white image dances around in colour and fills the space between the painting and the eye. There is, as Riley describes it, “maximum visual energy”


Bridget Riley, Fall, 1963, The Tate Museum, London.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Sent in by e-mail

    Yes, the exhibition was most interesting. Before seeing how the show panned out one might have thought that it was something of a stretch to make a case for starting with the great Seurat and working through to Bridget Riley, Op Art and beyond. But in fact this transition worked really well. The only possible down side to the terrific OP Art section was the fight to stop the onset of a headache, or worse, an attack of vertigo, especially standing in front of the exceptional Riley you chose.

    It’s not often you see the juxtaposition of a Masaccio with a Riley – your explanation was most interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

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