Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Bridget Riley (b.1931)
Hesitate, 1964
Oil on canvas
support: 1067 x 1124 mm frame: 1155 x 1100 x 54 mm
Tate Collection

When one mentions Op Art, Bridget Riley's paintings are the most famous example. I spent a lot of time with abstract art during a museum visit last week, none of which was by Bridget Riley, but I thought I would overflow into this week with the work of women. The Albright Knox Art Gallery owns at least one Riley, and this was my first experience with her work. As a child I loved it because of how it played with my eyes. I would move back and forth, closer, farther away from the painting to see how it changed.

Op Art refers to the optical effects that the work has on the viewer. The experience becomes dimensional and dominates the viewer's experience. Op Art and Riley's work had a very significant affect on commercial ventures such as fashion and design.

Riley's works don't get their due justice in a digital environment, despite their optical quality. Her paintings are often very large, and this has a very specific effect on the viewer who is in turn encompassed by the illusion and visuality in the work. The "fine art" aspect of Riley's work has been debated as her work fits more comfortably with decoration and design than fine art. An interesting article briefly tackles the distinction and Riley's work -
Read between the lines: Are Bridget Riley’s paintings really fine art?
" by Will Self.

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