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Bridget Riley: Past into Present

Published by David Zwirner Books
Distributed by Simon & Schuster



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About The Book

Renowned British artist Bridget Riley’s paintings have provoked powerful sensations through their formally taut, abstract compositions over the course of her more than six-decade career. In this new body of work, Riley returns to earlier ideas and takes them into further and surprising directions.

As the artist has noted, “I am sometimes asked ‘What is your objective’ and this I cannot truthfully answer. I work ‘from’ something rather than ‘towards’ something. It is a process of discovery.” Since 1961, Riley has focused exclusively on seemingly simple geometric forms, such as lines, circles, curves, and squares, arrayed across a surface—whether a canvas, a wall, or paper—according to an internal logic. The resulting compositions actively engage the viewer, at times triggering sensations of vibration and movement. In the present selection, Riley advances her Measure for Measure series, her most extensive body of work to date, into a new, darker color palette—once again, changing the way we look and offering a powerful effect on our eyes.

This sense of dynamism was explored to great effect in the artist’s earliest black-and-white paintings, which established the basis of her enduring formal vocabulary. In 2020, after visiting her own earlier works at her retrospective exhibition organized by the National Galleries of Scotland, Riley returned to black-and-white lozenges, adjusting the orientation of each shape to create a new visual sensation.

Published on the occasion of the 2021 exhibition at David Zwirner, London, this monograph features new scholarship on the artist by art historian Éric de Chassey, who looks at how Riley’s past, in addition to the history of art, has led to this body of work.

About The Authors

One of the most significant artists working today, Bridget Riley (b. 1931) is renowned for her abiding dedication to the interaction of form and color that has led to a continued exploration of perception. Riley was born in 1931 in London, where she attended Goldsmiths College from 1949 to 1952 and the Royal College of Art from 1952 to 1955. 

Éric de Chassey is the director of the Institut national d’histoire de l’art, Paris, and a professor of modern and contemporary art history at the École normale supérieure in Lyon, France. Between 2009 and 2015, he was the director of the French Academy in Rome, Villa Medici. He has published extensively on American and European art, transatlantic cultural relationships, and the visual culture of the second half of the twentieth century. 

Product Details

  • Publisher: David Zwirner Books (May 9, 2023)
  • Length: 96 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781644230664

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Raves and Reviews

“Over the decades, Riley has continued to innovate, pushing her practice forward while staying loyal to her perceptual interests. She’s developed one of the most recognizable styles—perhaps even a personal brand—in contemporary art: You know a Bridget Riley painting when you see it.”

– Alina Cohen, Artsy

“It’s hard to think of an artist whose work is more visually pleasing than that of British artist Bridget Riley.”

– Artnet News

“unbeatable contestant...was the indefatigable Bridget Riley, recently turned ninety and at the top of her game since before many visitors to David Zwirner were even born. Her “Measure for Measure” series is...displayed an artistic clarity and commitment that took my breath away.”

– Gilda Willliams, Artforum

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