Bridget Riley

YGBR. Four colours, visual violet

Gouache: 28(h) x 24.8(w) in /

71.1(h) x 62.9(w) cm

Signed, dated and inscribed lower left and right: YGBR./ Four Colours, visual violet Bridget Riley 1983

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BV 113



Born London 1931


YGBR. four colours, visual violet


Signed, dated and inscribed lower left and right: YGBR./Four Colours, visual violet Bridget Riley 1983

Gouache: 28 x 24 ¾ in / 71.1 x 62.9 cm

Frame size: 29 ⅜ x 26 ⅛ in / 74.6 x 66.4



Max Hetzler Gallery, Berlin

Karsten Schubert, London

Private collection, USA



1980 marked a breakthrough for Bridget Riley, signalling a new direction, palette and structure, as well as the move to painting in oils. A trip to Egypt during the winter of 1979-80, the museum at Cairo and the ancient tombs at Luxor, inspired an Egyptian palette of powerful colours, whose brilliance necessitated a return to a simplified formal structure: the neutral stripe. The uniform precision of Riley’s decisive design and immaculate finish enables the uninterrupted interaction of colours and the fleeting visual sensations they create. Like a passage of music, Riley carefully composes colour chords across the canvas using red, green, blue and yellow, punctuated by five accents of white to establish the rhythm and provide pause. Riley’s arrangement of fresh, bright colours animates the visual field and entrances the active spectator, each hue interacting with those adjacent and percieved according to their surroundings. Though she initially chose form, Riley continues to work with colour as a medium, ‘which I believe to be more precise because it is closer to our experience of the real world. Unstable and incalculable, it is also rich and comforting. For a painter it is an ideal vehicle because it can be both a revelation and merely the surface of things.’[1]






    Bridget Riley, Kashan, 1984

    Oil on linen: 211.5 x 171 

    National Museum Wales, Cardiff



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] ‘Into Colour’, Bridget Riley in conversation with Robert Kudielka, 1978 cited in Robert Kudielka (ed), The Eye’s Mind: Bridget Riley Collected Writings 1965-1999, Thames and Hudson, London, 1999, p.104.

Post War BritishBridget Riley