Bridget Riley CBE, renowned as one of the foremost contributors to Op Art – optical art, which is visual art that uses optical illusions; is returning to her roots with one of her foundation’s (The Bridget Riley Art Foundation) first funded projects in collaboration with the British Museum.
Riley, who studied at The Royal College of Art with fellow students including Peter Blake and Frank Auerbach, was introduced to the British Museum’s collection of drawings: Old Master and Modern, as a student 60 years ago.
Her style had begun as a semi-impressionist but after working at an advertising agency she adopted a pointillism style of painting, that in 1960 lead to her development of her signature abstract Op Art that is so widely celebrated today, and the focal point of this graphic revival at the British Museum.
Having worked as a teacher at some of the finest art schools, including Convent of the Sacred Heart, Harrow; Riley is clearly keen to continue educating. Riley’s foundation is now funding a three year initiative, that will support two curatorial positions in the British Museum’s prints and drawings department, as well as a series a drawing workshops in the ‘Prints and Drawings Study Room’ based on the ‘Old Master and Modern’ collection Riley became a part of so many years ago. The initiative is aimed at encouraging university students to make the most of the museum’s graphic collection, and to allow their drawing to be inspired by the collection. So far 500 students have discovered the collection since the initiative began.
Riley’s foundation will also be funding a touring exhibition of the collection of drawings aimed at art students outside of London. So far three venues in Hull, Northern Ireland and Poole have been selected and confirmed for the UK-wide tour in 2017.
Riley’s fascinating evolution from figuration to abstraction is currently being explored in an exhibition at London’s Courtauld Gallery (Bridget Riley: Learning from Seurat, until 17 January 2016).