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Bridget Riley: Paintings and Preparatory Work 1961-2004

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)


14 Dec 2004 to 06 Mar 2005

Curator: Vivienne Webb

about the exhibition

Bridget Riley: Paintings and Preparatory Work 1961-2004 was the first major retrospective exhibition in Australia of Bridget Riley’s influential work. Riley is one of Britain’s most celebrated artists with a career that spans over four decades. She came to prominence in the early 1960s and in 1968 was awarded the International Prize at the Venice Biennale — the first woman and the first living British painter ever to receive the honour. Today she remains one of the world’s most respected and renowned abstract painters.

Riley takes as her inspiration and starting point the experience of sight. Through a rigorous investigative approach she distils visual effects. Despite the use of a deceptively simple vocabulary of shapes and colour, her works offer the spectator a variety of powerful new experiences.

This exhibition included 35 paintings dating from 1961 to 2004, encompassing the major periods of Riley’s work and illustrating the shifts in her interests. These included a selection of her acclaimed black and white works from the early 1960s, which explored some of the differences between what is really seen and what we expect to see. In 1967 she began to use colour; slender stripes at first with a restricted palette through delicate curves to the magnificent large-scale paintings from the late 1990s. The exhibition included a large group of studies and works on paper that revealed her meticulous artistic process. Also featured in this exhibition, was a site-specific wall drawing Composition with Circles 4 (2004) made especially for the exhibition Bridget Riley: Paintings and Preparatory Work 1961-2004 at the MCA. The wall drawing is the fourth in this series, the first having been commissioned in 1998 for the Kunsthalle Bern in Switzerland.

Tour Itinerary

City Gallery Wellington, New Zealand: 25 March – 26 June 2005
Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau, Switzerland: 2 September – 13 November 2005

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