In 2013 Lyon & Turnbull’s Contemporary & Post-War Art department offered a selection of works form the Herbert Smith Freehills corporate art collection. The works of Bridget Riley, one of the most famous British artists of the last century, featured strongly.
Bridget Riley’s extraordinary career continues unabated, despite the fact the grand dame of Op Art is now in her 80s. Riley has achieved that elusive artistic ideal; creating a body of work as pioneering as it is ubiquitous. Her graphic style came to epitomise the Swinging Sixties but her continued exploration of Op Art’s possibilities has proved it to be fertile ground. Despite focusing her work in a narrow field, she has managed to side-step the pitfalls of the cliché.
Whilst the results of her painstaking technique and careful colour-play display a technical understanding firmly rooted in the scientific, Riley firmly asserts that her artistic approach has always been intuitive. Beyond the initial optical illusion, her art sets out to provoke an emotional response in the viewer.
The works in this sale dated from a period of experimentation in the 1990s and early millennium. By this stage Riley had long abandoned the more rigid monochromatic structures associated with her 1960s output, discovering that the ‘lozenge’ forms - featured in several of the examples here - endowed her juxtapositions of form and colour with more movement and depth than anything she had previously achieved. The nature of Riley’s work is to place demands on the viewer’s gaze but in these later works the calmer palette and the playful arabesque forms result in a series of works which are unequivocally fun and light-hearted to read.