Bridget Riley's mature market continues to experience steady rates of growth in value in Q1 2023. Though her works are scarce on the secondary market, they are eternally desirable thanks to Riley's position at the pioneer of the Op-Art movement. Since 2017, Riley's prints have performed admirably: owing to their optically dizzying and timeless appeal.
Download our complete Modern British Prints Report here, to explore expert opinions on this prints and multiples market over the last five years.
Our value index blends public auction data and private sales data from our collectors network. Our market value index uses artwork & artist data and a Repeat-Sales Regression (RSR) approach. Using the sale price of individual prints to estimate the fluctuations in the value of an average representative print over a unique period of time.
Our algorithm tracks over 48,500 auction histories & our own private sales data across 3,500 artworks spanning 30 years, including signed, unsigned, APs, PPs, TPs and sets of prints & editions.
We use several metrics when comparing artists:
Bridget Riley (English b. 1931) the most famous innovator of the 1960s Op-Art movement known for creating complex works that elevate two-dimensional geometric shapes with hypnotising three dimensional effects through line and colour.
Since 2017, Riley's market (despite its relatively small size) has experienced a consistency of value growth. In fact, the rarity of her works has driven Riley's overall market to increase in size by 72.64% between 2017 - Q1 2023. Although every market is subject to risk and unpredictable factors of economic change, especially within the art market, this consistency of positive strong returns is reflective of a lower degree of volatility perhaps compared to other similar artists.
Find out more about Riley's most recent auction sales in our 20th/21st Century Week Auction Report.
Riley’s total market performance has been continuously strong and consistent over the five-year period, showing YoY increases since 2018. Undoubtedly positive indicators in an artists market as they suggest the value of a work increases overtime presenting the opportunity to generate positive returns over a given period. Within the prints and multiples sector, the most obvious indicators of Riley’s market throughout 2017 to 2022 is healthy growth generating an average ASP of 10,268 (£GBP) and an average +15% increase in YoY sales volume. The single negative factor is a -2% decline in sales volume in 2022.
Partly due to the scarcity of prints available on the secondary market, Riley's prints have performed phenomenally since 2017. Particular ‘star’ works shape the Op-Artist's averages, as we can see in her most investable prints over the last five-year period.
Here are Riley's top 5 most investable prints according to our Modern British Prints Report:
Created in the 1970s, Firebird introduces an ambitious period where Riley began experimenting with and incorporating colour into her works. Firebird is constructed with a combination of warm and cool hues. Yet, the meticulous and calculated placement and blend are striking and challenge the viewer’s perception of space and movement through energetic vibrations. The 1970s was an early point in Riley’s career. As her later work demonstrates, she continued to push the boundaries of Op-Art and illusion, incorporating various complex colours and geometric shapes into her practice. According to our records, this print is an edition of 75 and is her number one top-selling print. The work was sold for £52,920 in March 2021 at Sotheby’s London.
Fragment 1 is a crucial work in Riley's oeuvre, a signed screen print and an edition of 75. Created in the 1960s, this is an example of Riley’s early period, composed of works that imbue the culmination of her artistic practice before she experimented with grey and colour. Using only lines, the contrast between black and white creates a visual impact and illusionary depth, dislocating the focal lens and allowing the viewer to move with and pull in and out of the picture plane. This work was most recently sold at Sotheby’s in September 2021 for £52,920.
In our Post-war and Contemporary Print Market review, read more about Riley's Fragment works.
Another work allocated to Riley’s Fragment series is Fragment 3, also created in 1965 and an edition of 75. Last sold by Bonhams New Bond Street, London, in September 2022 this work is number three of Riley’s Top most investable prints. The Fragment Series’ successful sales attest to the works’ popularity and Riley’s ingenuity as an artist. The monochromatic works that compose the series are paradoxically contradicting as they are simple in colour yet dynamic in form. The chevroned pattern in Fragment 3 creates a wave-like movement demonstrating the relationship and affects between colour, form, and perception.
Untitled (Based On Primitive Blaze) is dated 1962 and is printed on woven paper. Serving as one of Riley’s earliest examples of works, she transforms an ordinary circle, deliberately imposing a tunnel vision effect as the viewer spirals down into the zig-zagged depths. At first glance, the pattern appears composed of multiple, short zig-zags. However, upon closer inspection, each line is continuous creating an ironic harmonious balance of symmetry amongst dizzying forms.
Abandoning the traditional geometric shape, Fragment 2 is fierce and enigmatic as various crescent shapes in patterned monochromatic colour begin formulating a cluster of spherical objects. Riley created this piece in 1965 and is an edition of 75. The work explores a different technique than the other Fragment works, showcasing Riley’s approach and ability to manipulate perception with various shapes. Fragment 2 was last sold at Sotheby’s London in 2017 for £40,000.
Discover Riley's other top print results in the Modern British Prints Report.
The negative downturn in YoY sales value in Riley’s market, although slight, is significant and could perhaps indicate a plateau and ultimately impacting the sustainability of Riley’s market. We highlight that in line with YoY appreciation in sales value, the returns profile has steadily been declining over the same period, which is perhaps suggestive that Riley’s market has reached maturity.
Notwithstanding, it is a common pattern for successful artists' markets to hit maturity. Also considering that Riley’s transaction volume is generally lower than other artists' markets, in Q12023 only 6 prints have hit the secondary market, evidence of rarity, which is a market driver for higher priced works.
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