The black and white tile piazzas of Italy inspired the work for which Riley is most famous -- an Op Art succession. Caught in a downpour, she noticed how the appearance of the checkerboard tiles shifted and blurred as the water... [more]
The black and white tile piazzas of Italy inspired the work for which Riley is most famous -- an Op Art succession. Caught in a downpour, she noticed how the appearance of the checkerboard tiles shifted and blurred as the water streamed over them. From that point on, she explored the act of looking.
Initially she worked in black and white, as in "Blaze" (1964), a circular painting which explores both horizontal and vertical configurations. "Drift 2" (1966) consists of vertical wavy lines, reminiscent of shifting sands on the beach at the water's edge. Later, she added color and a diagonal element to her repertory and scrutinized the relationship between colors and the line -- all within the same Op Art framework.
Riley's works were not limited to wall pieces; she also worked in other mediums and venues, creating a mural for the Royal Liverpool Hospital and her first Ballet set for "Colour Moves," which premiered at the Edinburgh Festival in 1983. She started these works in the 1960s at the height of countercultural movements, so they were embraced by the public straight away -- and co-opted. Even before the paint was dry, her patterns were used for fabric design, which she was never entirely pleased with.
Riley has continued her subtle study of the magical world where sight and perception meet. "For me, Nature is not landscape, but the dynamism of visual forces -- an event rather than an appearance," she's said. "These forces can only be tackled by treating color and form as ultimate identities, freeing them from all descriptive or functional roles." [show less]