Firebird, like the other works featuring stripes by pioneering British painter Bridget Riley, consists of vertical bands of colour in varying hues. One of the first prints in colour in Riley’s canon, Firebird occupies a significant place in her oeuvre. Displaying vertical, twisting bars of red, green and blue, separated by intervals of white space, in turn generate a powerful and spirited array of imagined colours for the viewer. This signed screen print was released in 1971 in an edition of 75.
Riley has previously suggested these horizontally-striped works should be read from left to right in order to fully appreciate the variations in tone between warmer and cooler hues. Each colour is selected in response to the colour it superposes: “I want to create a colour-form, not coloured forms”, Riley states. By varying the tones of the colours selected for Firebird, a rainbow effect emerges and the colours appear to blend and bleed into each other.