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Modern and Contemporary Art

Biography for Bridget Riley

Bridget Riley was born in 1931 at Norwood, London, the daughter of a businessman. Her childhood was spent in Cornwall and Lincolnshire. She studied at Goldsmiths College from 1949 to 1952, and at the Royal College of Art from 1952 to 1955. Riley has exhibited widely since her first solo show in 1962. Among numerous exhibitions, she was included in the 1968 Venice Biennial where she won the International Prize for painting.

Bridget Riley is one of Britain’s best-known artists. Since the mid-1960s she has been celebrated for her distinctive, optically vibrant paintings which actively engage the viewer’s sensations and perceptions, producing visual experiences that are complex and challenging, subtle and arresting. Riley is acclaimed as one of the finest exponents of Op Art, with her subtle variations in size, shape and position of blocks within the overall pattern. Her work is characterized by its intensity and it’s often disorientating effect. Indeed the term ‘Riley sensation’ was coined to describe this effect of looking at the paintings, especially her early black and white pictures. Riley is fascinated with the act of looking and in her work aims to engage the viewer not only with the object of their gaze but also with the actual process of observation.