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Friday, 26 August 2016

Painting of the Month (65) Sept 2016: Bridget Riley

Bridget Riley was born in London, England in 1931 and is still working at age 85. She was the darling of the London art scene in the 1960s and was largely responsible for the increased popularity of Op Art at that time.
'Fall', Bridget Riley, 1963

Op Art had its origins in the early twentieth century but it was not known by that term then. Freudian theory and Gestalt psychology were both influences but Riley’s main inspirations were the pointillist George Seurat and the abstract painter Jackson Pollack. She saw an exhibition of Jackson's work in London in 1958. The figure-ground concept describes the perception of the difference between foreground and background object figures. You might say it's about optical illusion. The illustration, below, can be seen as either two people face-to-face or a candlestick - leaving one's eye-brain co-ordination to make the decision.
So, Bridget Riley's Op Art depends on this process to draw the viewer in. If you stare at the top picture (click on it to enlarge), you should see some movement. In fact these works can make you feel a little giddy if seen in large scale in a gallery. Psychedelia was the order of the day and Riley used art instead of pills to reveal a new reality in vision.
Figure-Ground example
Two faces or a candlestick?

In the late sixties she started working with colour and her work certainly had a different appeal from then on. I have shown a selection of her work below and, whatever one thinks about modern art, especially Op Art, ('op' is short for optical of course),  She became interested in the visual and emotional response to colour.
I find much of her colour works have a wonderful calming influence and I could easily live with one on my wall.

A 1989 portrait of the artist. I think this a wonderful photo. (by Jane Brown).
I'm listening to the only version of the much-recorded song Mr Bojangles that I really enjoy. It's by the man who wrote it; Jerry Jeff Walker and here you can hear the version I prefer.


Anonymous said...

Hot from the desk of the appalling, yet fabulous, Sir Tom Eagerly:
Bazza old chap, the last time I saw pictures like that I had drunk a couple of pints.....of whiskey!

bazza said...

Sir Tom: When did you wake up?

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bazza - that first image - I had to scroll past ... I couldn't read the blog post! Very clever ... and I love what you've shown us ... her colour ones - I agree I could live with those ... yet most of my art here is in black and white. That photo of Bridget Riley is just wonderful - quite agree ... cheers Hilary

bazza said...

Hello Hilary. Yes, that first one really works in the 'moving image' department! There are those who say that Bridget Riley is just a draughtswoman (they probably say 'draughtsman') but she is a genuine artist to me.

Sherry Ellis said...

I would have difficulty having any of those on my walls. They are fascinating, though.

bazza said...

Hi Sherry. All art appreciation is a matter of personal taste l suppose. I think many would agree with you!

Hels said...

Riley was focused on optical magic, colour and shape. What a clever artist she was, and spot on for her time!

I have no problem with Seurat, but I would think carefully about Pollack as an inspiration. (Even though I know there are squillion of Pollack fans out there).

bazza said...

Hello Hels. Riley claims to have been in heavily influenced by Pollock and by the sculpture of Boccioni. I think that Op Art is clearly descended from Abstract Expressionism. Most art movements are a reaction to what when before and, even if 'opposed' to the previous style often refers to it.

John said...

Hi Bazza!
Those paintings make my eyes go funny! Funnier than normal anyway! I always see the two faces before the candlestick, what does that say about me!?

bazza said...

Hi John. I previously replied to this via my Android phone - it must have gone to your email!
What I said was that you probably should see a psychiatrist!

David said...

Hi bazza,
I hadn't heard of this artist before, but had heard of pointillism (Seurat) and of course Pollock. I find the paintings a little lacking in a bit of human passion, a bit antiseptic almost, if that's an appropriate adjective. The photograph of Bridget Riley, however, is full of life!
Strangely enough, I had heard, in my journey through mental health, that those who can see only one version of the faces/candlestick picture are often prone to schizophrenic illness. I don't know whether this is some kind of myth, but like John, I always see the faces before the candlestick! Maybe you were right to tell him to see a psychiatrist!
Very Best Wishes,

Nas said...

Sounds interesting artist to create all these.

bazza said...

Hi David. They are very much of their time and even though they are relatively recent (around 50 years or less) the world was different then!
The artist was inspired by nature and the emotional use of colour intending to making the viewer 'feel' as much as 'see'.

bazza said...

Hello Nas. Thanks for visiting and for your comment. What an interesting job you have!
Where are you based?

Weekend-Windup said...

Amazing art and colorful...

Dixie@dcrelief said...

Dear me, I still have focusing issues with Op Art. I thought that one day my problem would subside. Nada.

bazza said...

Weekend-Windup: Thanks.

bazza said...

Hi Dixie. Oh dear! I am sorry about that; look away now!

klahanie said...

Bazza, ooolllddd chap, I'm trippin' out on those images.

Have a good one, eh.


bazza said...

Yeah man, let it all hang out!