David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition by British artist Bridget Riley in close collaboration with Karsten Schubert. Featuring over thirty paintings and studies selected from all periods of her career, from 1961 to 2014, the show will be installed throughout the three floors of the gallery, making it the artist’s first major survey in London since her 2003 retrospective at Tate Britain.
Riley’s dedication to the interaction of form and colour has led to a continued exploration of perception. From the early 1960s, she has used elementary shapes such as lines, circles, curves, and squares to create visual experiences that actively engage the viewer, at times triggering optical sensations of vibration and movement. Focusing on her recurrent use of stripes over the past fifty years, the exhibition demonstrates the visual variety she achieves by changes in colour, weight, rhythm, and density. Opening with an iconic black-and-white, horizontal stripe painting from 1961, the show includes her first stripe works in colour from later that decade, as well as a large two-panel diagonal stripe painting, Prairie (1971/2003), and vertical stripe works from the 1980s that demonstrate her “Egyptian” palette. The survey finishes with the artist’s newest body of horizontal stripes, including several paintings that have never been exhibited before. Works on paper related to the paintings are also on view.
The show presents a select and illuminating overview of Riley’s practice, which first achieved widespread international acclaim with the 1965 exhibition The Responsive Eye at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. Riley has returned to stripes at crucial moments in her career, demonstrating their significance for her overall engagement with form, colour, and perception. As shown at the gallery, their varied palettes, tempos, and sizes further testify to the importance of nature in the artist’s work, which she understands as “the dynamism of visual forces—an event rather than an appearance”. Inspired by painters of the past including Georges Seurat, Paul Cézanne, and Henri Matisse, Riley’s abstract innovations offer a groundbreaking way of looking.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by David Zwirner, which will feature new scholarship by art historian Richard Shiff, an interview from 1978 with Robert Kudielka—one of her foremost critics—and an essay on the artist’s wall paintings by Paul Moorhouse, 20th Century Curator at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Additionally, the book features archival imagery of Riley and her work since the 1960s, as well as illustrations of her 1987 and 2013 commissions for St Mary’s Hospital in West London.
Born in London in 1931, Bridget Riley attended Goldsmiths College from 1949 to 1952 and the Royal College of Art from 1952 to 1955. In 1974, she was made a CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) and in 1999, appointed the Companion of Honour. In 1968, she won the International Prize for Painting at the Venice Biennale. In 2005, the artist was awarded the Praemium Imperiale in Tokyo. She received the Kaiser Ring of the City of Goslar, Germany in 2003 and the Rubens Prize of the City of Siegen, Germany in 2012.
Recent exhibitions include Bridget Riley: Paintings and Related Work (2010-2011), on view at the Sunley Room at the National Gallery, London, featuring recent paintings by the artist alongside Old Master and Impressionist works. Also in London in 2010, the National Portrait Gallery presented Bridget Riley: From Life, an exhibition of Riley’s little-known sketches drawn from life. Other recent international museum shows include Bridget Riley: Flashback, which first went on view at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool in 2009; Bridget Riley: Rétrospective at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in Paris in 2008; Bridget Riley: Paintings and Drawings 1961-2004 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney in 2004-2005; Bridget Riley: New Work at the Museum Haus Esters and Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, Krefeld, Germany in 2002; and Bridget Riley: Reconnaissance at the Dia Center for the Arts, New York from 2000-2001. Riley’s visual vocabulary is complemented by her numerous books and essays in which she explores concepts pertaining to her own practice as well as the works of several other artists. Riley has also co-curated exhibitions on Paul Klee (Hayward Gallery, 2002) and Piet Mondrian (Tate Gallery, 1996).
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