Market Watch Bridget Riley: Top 10 Most Investable Prints

Bridget Riley - MyArtBroker
Jasper Tordoff

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Since 2017, Bridget Riley's art market has shown remarkable resilience and consistent growth, peaking in 2023 in sales value and demonstrating an 83% market growth over the past seven years. Despite her diverse portfolio, Riley's prints have become increasingly rare, fuelling collector demand. While her Fragment series remains popular, Dominance, Stripes, and Lozenges gained prominence in 2023, solidifying their status as sought-after investments. Despite the market's modest size, Riley's print works offer accessible entry points for collectors.

Read MyArtBroker's 2024 Bridget Riley Investment Guide.

Here are Riley's top 10 most investable prints:

1.

Green Dominance, Blue Dominance, Red Dominance

The complete set of Green Dominance, Blue Dominance, Red Dominance constitutes Riley's Dominance series, originating in 1967. Each print within this series features meticulously arranged vertical lines in rotating colours, resulting in a mesmerising optical interplay. Representing a pivotal moment in Riley's artistic journey, these works epitomise her exploration of colour during what would later be recognised as the Polychrome Op Art era, departing from her previous emphasis on solid monochromatic schemes. Notably rare in Riley's print market, acquiring the entire trio is an even more exceptional feat. In 2023, this complete set appeared at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers in Chicago, marking its first public unveiling since 2020. The set achieved a record-breaking price of £70,854 with fees, showcasing a remarkable 2.2-fold increase from its previous sale.

2.

RA (Inverted)

RA (Inverted) features slender vertical lines in a spectrum of rotating colours, interspersed with meticulously positioned black and white lines, shaping the perception and interaction of the repeating colours within the composition. Black intensifies colour saturation and depth, enhancing vibrancy, while white accentuates brightness and clarity, offering a crisp visual impact. Riley's adept manipulation of colours and geometries creates striking optical illusions. Rarely seen in the market, this artwork reappeared in 2023 after its last auction in 2020, achieving £44,100 with fees, doubling its previous sale price, and making only its third public auction appearance.

3.

Firebird

Firebird is part of Riley's Stripes series, originating in 1971. Despite its vertical variations in warm and cool hues punctuated with evenly distributed white, this piece was intended to be experienced from a horizontal perspective, encouraging a left-to-right reading. While Firebird has made modest appearances in public auctions, typically once or twice a year, it's scarcity adds to its allure. In 2023, Firebird made two appearances, with the highest selling price attained at Cheffins in October, where the artwork fetched £33,000 including fees.

4.

Fragment 2

Fragment 2 is part of Riley's esteemed Fragment series, a collection of seven works unveiled in 1965 within a limited edition of 75 prints. This series holds paramount importance in Riley's oeuvre, showcasing her early experimentation and mastery of monochromatic compositions, specifically crafted in crescent moon shapes to evoke mesmerising configurations and disorienting effects. Revered within the art market, the Fragment series stands as some of Riley's most coveted creations. Fragment 2 made two notable appearances in 2023, achieving its highest sale price of £30,366 including fees at Christie's, setting a record value for this print and affirming its enduring appeal among collectors and investors alike.

5.

Fragment 5

Another addition to Riley's Fragment series, Fragment 5 epitomises Riley's exploration of monochromatic themes within the art market. This artwork, featuring a distinctive single wave-like crescent moon formation, has made a modest number of appearances in public auctions over the past five years, although its overall presence surpasses that of the previous work, Fragment 2. Fragment 5 made its auction debut in February 2003 and had a single appearance on the market in 2023, commanding a selling price of £28,582 inclusive of fees ranking as one of Riley's most investable prints.

6.

New Day

New Day, part of Riley's Zig/Rhomboid series, follows her earlier Stripes series characterised by orderly, rotating colours in vertical and horizontal stripes. In this series, Riley showcases her innovative use of geometries, introducing diagonal elements to explore intersections of colour and form. Slices of intersecting black add depth and dimension to the composition. Sold for £24,499 at Sotheby's in April, New Day made its first auction appearance since 2021, setting a new record price for the print and surpassing the previous record by 1.6 times.

7.

Silvered 2

Silvered 2, produced in 1981 as an edition of 75 prints, employs a minimalistic palette of six colours, predominantly in slim vertical lines. Strategically placed black accents infuse depth, while white highlights intensify contrast and luminosity. This piece epitomises Riley's signature stripe motif, inviting viewers to engage in an optical journey from the canvas's apex to its base. With only two appearances in the public market, it's scarcity enhances its allure. In October, Sworders featured this rare print, fetching £23,750 with fees—a decade since its last auction appearance. This sale not only set a record for Silvered 2 but also boasted a remarkable 5.3-fold increase in value from its 2013 debut.

8.

Fragment 3

Fragment 3 stands as the third installment among Riley's esteemed series of seven Fragment prints, consistently in demand within her print portfolio. Known for their monochromatic allure, each Fragment piece boasts unique motifs ranging from waves to crescents to dots. Fragment 3 captivates with its chevron pattern, inducing an optical illusion that animates the artwork from its core. Its scarcity heightens its desirability, evident in its solo auction appearance in 2023 at Christie's, where it commanded £22,680 with fees in September.

9.

Large Fragment

Large Fragment, part of Riley's esteemed Lozenges series, emerged onto the art scene in 2006, reflecting her ongoing exploration of shape, line, and colour. Inspired by the fluidity of dance and modern art's cut-out techniques, this series captivates with its intricate interplay of form and movement. Noteworthy characteristics of this expansive series include its vibrant colour palette and meticulous coordination. This particular print exemplifies Riley's penchant for experimentation, with its enlarged, zoomed-in interlocking forms challenging perceptions. Despite its rarity, this print made dual appearances in the 2023 art market, with the regular edition fetching a record-breaking £20,480, signifying a remarkable 2.16-fold increase from its previous 2020 sale.

10.

Rothko Portfolio

Rothko Portfolio, crafted in 1973, represents one of Riley's earlier pieces. Notable for its segmented composition, the artwork features four horizontal sections adorned with diagonal lines in varying shades of blue, accentuated by white space. While not part of a series, this work exemplifies Riley's experimental phase and hints at her continued exploration of colour. Originally published in 1973 by the Mark Rothko Memorial Trust, established by Bryan Robertson, this charity aimed to support UK artists' travel to the US. Achieving a record-breaking price of £19,050 at Phillips in June, the artwork has garnered considerable attention since 2004 but has become increasingly scarce, with only three appearances in the last five years.

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