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Bridget Riley (England born 1931)

”Yellow, Turquoise, Red, Blue, Black and White. Lilac and Green sensations. Study for ’Early Spring’”.

To be sold at our Important Sale: Modern & Contemporary Art + Design 8 – 10 November 2023

Lot 451 Bridget Riley (England born 1931). ”Yellow, Turquoise, Red, Blue, Black and White. Lilac and Green sensations. Study for ’Early Spring’”. Signed and dated Bridget Riley ’81 lower right. Gouache on paper, 89 x 62 cm (paper).


800.000 – 1.000.000 SEK
€ 69.000 – 87.000


Juda Rowan Gallery, London.
Galerie Konstruktiv Tendens, Stockholm.
A Swedish private collection, acquired from the above.


Probably exhibited at Galerie Konstruktiv Tendens, Stockholm, ”Bridget Riley”, 1987.

The immensely fascinating Bridget Riley captured the audience in the mid 1960s at the time when Op Art entered the art scene. The swinging sixties embraced the new painting style when the industries of fashion, design and advertising fell in love with the graphic patterns and decorative values of the mesmerising art works. Everyone was talking about it, Op Art became ’cool’ and in Great Britain Bridget Riley became its ultimate front figure and queen of the arts. Through her experiments with the geometric shapes a new imagery evolved, as explained by Riley herself: “I couldn’t get near what I wanted through seeing, recognising and recreating, so I stood the problem on its head. I started studying squares, rectangles, triangles and the sensations they give rise to…”

It was during the early 1960s that Bridget Riley began her first Op Art paintings, focusing on simple geometric shapes like squares, ovals and lines in paintings where she was only using the black and white colours as contrasts. The creative process was instinctive and based upon what she herself saw with her own eyes and not based upon any theory. Her first solo show took place at Gallery One in London in the spring of 1962, a defining moment for her future career. During the following year she was invited to participate at the prestigious “New Generation” exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery together with Allen Jones and David Hockney. Soon international recognition was a fact when she exhibited alongside Victor Vasarely and others at “The Responsive Eye” exhibition at MoMA in New York in 1985, where one of her paintings was being featured at the cover of the exhibition catalogue. Even though the critics were not yet convinced about the Op Art, the public truly was as the exhibition became extremely popular and a great success.

After her black and white period Riley started to introduce colours in her works from 1967 onwards. This was something she was cautious of, as perception of colour is relative as each colour is affected by the colours next to it. This was also the time when she began to elaborate with the more stabilised forms of simple vertical lines or wavy lines, that was to become her forthcoming signature imagery. Her primary source of inspiration was the visual and emotional response to colour that she experimented with in various palettes and forms. 

Created during the important year of 1981 is the painting ”Yellow, Turquoise, Red, Blue, Black and White. Lilac and Green sensations. Study for ’Early Spring’”. This year marks a turning point in Riley’s artistry, as she during a travel in Egypt was greatly influenced and enchanted by the colours used by ancient Egyptian art: “The colours are purer and more brilliant than any I had used before.” Riley found a group of colours which worked perfectly as a scheme in the colour tones the Egyptians had used for over 3000 years. At the same time the different colours remained their individual brilliance as they generated new colours and light effects in the spaces between the colour groups. With the Egyptian paintings Riley fulfilled her aim, as she had found the intensity and vibrant shimmer of light she had always been in search of; “The music of colour, that’s what I want.”

Ever since has Bridget Riley remained her position as one of the most influential British artists with a grand career behind her, as well as bering a true source of inspiration for younger generations. As one of the most celebrated abstract painters of her generation Riley has introduced a dynamic sense and rhythm in her non-figurative works, paintings that often seem to flicker and pulsate in movement. Throughout her complex and constantly evolving oeuvre she has always followed her search for the fascinating physical process of perception. The eye and its impressions has forever challenged artists throughout the history to search for new dimensions and Riley represents one important leap in its development, as described by Robert Melville in 1971: “No painter, dead or alive, has ever made us more aware of our eyes than Bridget Riley.”

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