Have a look at this painting. Does it make your eyes feel funny?
Bridget Riley, Fall, 1963, © Bridget Riley
When Bridget Riley first exhibited her black and white abstract paintings in the 1960s, people were amazed at how they seemed to move. It was like she was painting with electricity and the patterns were live wires!
This style of painting is known as Op art, which is when the artist overlaps colours and patterns to make an optical illusion. This can make it look like its moving when you move!
Bridget Riley was born in 1931 in London, but when World War II broke out, she left the city and moved to Cornwall. She would walk along the coastline and explore the caves where she would sit and watch the reflections in rock pools. She also liked looking at the sea and how the light made it change colour during the day.
In 1960, she went to Venice where she saw sculptures by the Italian artist Umberto Boccioni. Here is one of his sculptures.
Umberto Boccioni, Unique Forms of Continuity in Space 1913, cast 1972. c. Tate
Riley wanted to make paintings that had curves like Boccioni’s sculptures, like this one here.
Bridget Riley, Fragment 2/10 1965 © Bridget Riley 2014. All rights reserved, courtesy Karsten Schubert, London
She also started experimenting with colour, mixing warm and cold colours together, like red and blue, in order to make the paintings vibrant. She travelled to many different countries, like Egypt and India, and looked closely at the way the artists in those countries used colour. She was interested in the way hot countries used very bright colours to stop them fading in the sun.
This painting is called Nataraja and is inspired by a trip she made to India. Nataraja means Lord of the Dance, and refers to the Hindu god Shiva.
Bridget Riley, Nataraja 1993. © Bridget Riley 2014. All rights reserved, courtesy Karsten Schubert, London
She thought this painting looked a bit like a dance too, with its diagonal lines and bright colours. Do you think it does? The composition of the painting is quite simple, just a lot of rectangles, but sometimes the simplest things can seem complex.
What do you think of Riley’s work? Do you think you could make some Op Art in Spin or Tate Paint?
Let us know in the comments!
Tags: bridget riley, op art
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