Bridget Riley was the first female artist to receive the Sikkens Prize. Colour plays an important and consistent part In her unique abstract paintings with optical effects. Riley’s pure, subtle and precise use of colour has led to a sensational oeuvre that is a great inspiration to the artists of the next generation.
Grand dame of British art
One of the most important British artists of her time, Bridget Riley is often considered the grande dame of British art. She already made a name for herself back in the 1960s with her black-and-white paintings that examined the dynamic effects of optical phenomena. Riley began experimenting with colour in 1967, and has been investigating perception through colour and form ever since.
In 1971, Robert Melville effectively described the impact of Riley’s work: “No painter, dead or alive, has ever made us more aware of our eyes than Bridget Riley.” Her dynamic work has a dizzying effect. Constantly reshaping and undulating, the lines on the canvas seem to be coming straight for us. The curved line, especially, is an important element in Riley’s work. Her Curve Paintings demonstrate her continuous search for new ways to add movement to colours and lines.
About Bridget Riley
Bridget Riley studied at Goldsmiths College London (1949-1952) and the Royal College of Art (1952-1955). Her work has been shown in international solo and group exhibitions since the early 1960s, from The Responsive Eye in the MoMA in 1965 to the solo exhibition New Paintings and Related Work in the National Gallery in 2011. Bridget Riley has received numerous honours and awards, including the international prize for painting at the 1968 Venice Biennale, the Kaiserring of the city of Goslar in 2009, and recently the 12th Rubens Prize from the city of Siegen.
The award ceremony
The Sikkens Prize was awarded during a festive programme at Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, on Sunday 28 October 2012. John Elderfield delivered a laudation in honour of Bridget Riley. The museum simultaneously opened an exhibition of Riley’s work, the highlight of which was an almost 20×4 meter mural made especially for the occasion. Neuroscientist Dick Swaab delivered the Mondrian Lecture as part of the event.