Bridget Riley

May 19, Bassacs '94

Gouache: 26(h) x 33.9(w) in /

66(h) x 86(w) cm

Signed, dated and inscribed lower left and right: May 19, Bassacs '94 Bridget Riley ’94

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BM 30



Born London 1931


May 19, Bassacs ‘94


Signed, dated and inscribed lower left and right:

May 19, Bassacs ’94  Bridget Riley ’94

Gouache: 26 x 33 ⅞ in / 66 x 86 cm

Frame size: 32 x 39 ½ in / 81.3 x 100.3 cm



Galerie Michael Sturm, Stuttgart

Private collection, acquired from the above



Kendal, Abbott Hall Gallery, Bridget Riley: Recent Painting and Gouaches, 1st May – 9th June 1996



In a conversation with Isabel Carlisle published in the exhibition catalogue Bridget Riley Works 1961 – 1998, Bridget Riley explains how from 1986 onwards her process as an artist was changed by the arrival of a strong diagonal motif within her work. Interviewer Carlisle counteracted this statement with her interpretation of the diagonal in Riley’s late-1990s gouaches, describing how they offered ‘an experience of looking which allows the eye to enter and emerge at a myriad number of places.’[1] Carlisle then asked if this newfound motif had given Riley’s practise a greater sense of freedom, Riley replied: ‘It certainly has changed, and in a fundamental way. I wanted to get more involved with the problems of painting in a plastic sense – building different places, layering depths and trying to provide multiple visual readings. But first I had to give up some staple tenets of my work which I had long held. The most difficult to forego was colour interaction, which although still present is no longer so dominant. This entailed shifting my work over from a perceptual orientation to one of sensation.’[2]


Between 1986 and 1997, Bridget Riley developed the Rhomboid paintings, moving on from her previous series of vertically-structured Egyptian stripes. This body of work focuses around the rhomboid and introduces Riley’s experimentation with the diagonal movement of form, rising from the bottom left to the top right of her canvases. This movement compromised the verticality of the stripe and brought about the formation of vivid rhomboid planes, articulated by Riley’s unprecedented use of a wide-range of colours: ‘Eventually I found what I was looking for in the conjunction of the vertical and diagonal … this conjunction was the new form. It could be seen as a patch of colour – acting almost like a brush mark. When enlarged, these formal patches become coloured planes that could take up different positions in space.’[3]


Bridget Riley, Conversation, 1992

Oil on canvas: 92 x 126 cm

Abbot Hall Art Gallery




Born London 1931


Born in London in 1931, Bridget Riley spent most of her childhood in Cornwall near Padstow in a cottage with her mother, aunt and younger sister, her father being away in the armed forces during the War. From 1946-48 she was educated at Cheltenham Ladies College, where she was introduced by her teacher Colin Hayes to the history of painting and encouraged to attend a local life class. Riley went on to study at Goldsmith’s College of Art from 1949-52 under Sam Rabin and then at the RCA from 1952-5 at the same time as Frank Auerbach, Peter Blake, Joe Tilson and John Bratby. A long period of unhappiness followed her graduation from the RCA as Riley nursed her father after a serious car accident and subsequently suffered a nervous breakdown. After a number of jobs she joined the J Walter Thompson advertising agency. 


In 1959 Riley took part in a summer school in Suffolk organised by Harry Thubron, and met Maurice de Sausmarez, who became her friend and mentor, going on to write the first monograph of her work. On tour in Italy in the summer of 1960, Riley painted Pink Landscape, 1960, a key piece in her early development.  Having broken with Sausmarez and suffered an artistic crisis, her attempts to create an entirely black painting produced her first black-and-white works.  She held her first solo show 1962 at Gallery One, London and won the International Prize for painting at the 34th Venice Biennale in 1968, the first British contemporary painter and first woman ever to win. 


The work of Bridget Riley is represented in the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The British Council; the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; the Berardo Collection; Sintra Museum of Modern Art, Lisbon; the Arts Council Collection Hayward Gallery, London; the Tate, London; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Neues Museum, Nurnberg; the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; the Sheffield Galleries and Museums Trust; The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo and the Sezon Museum of Modern Art, Kitasaku. 

[1] Bridget Riley, Works 1961 – 1998, exh cat, Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, Cumbria, 1998, p.10.

[2] Ibid.

[3] The artist cited in, Bridget Riley Flashback, exh cat, Hayward Gallery, London, 2009, p.18.

Post War BritishBridget Riley