The present work was executed during a period of intense creativity for Riley. Her work was gathering acclaim both at home and abroad with her first solo exhibitions at Victor Musgrave's Gallery One in 1962 and 1963, followed by group shows at Tooth’s Gallery and the Walker Art Gallery. In 1964, Riley’s paintings were displayed at several exhibitions which focused on upcoming and emerging artists including the Arts Council of Great Britain’s Six Young Artists, Whitechapel Art Gallery’s The New Generation and even the Young Artists Biennale in Tokyo. Riley's energetic and innovative style of abstraction resonated with the atmosphere of cultural and social liberation in the 1960s and her work informed not only the art world, but also the fashion and design of the period.
Riley's preparatory studies were an essential basis to her work in which formal ideas were explored and progressively refined. It was through these detailed studies that she built up a bank of visual information necessary to ensure the immaculate execution of the final painting. Riley, in an interview with Robert Kudielka, talks of these 'visual statements', which she considered important works in themselves:
'I proceed by trial and error - exploring and slowly establishing a particular situation ... the studies deal with aspects, the painting with totality. The studies are flexible and malleable, whereas the paintings are decisive and finite...' (Bridget Riley, quoted in Bridget Riley Paintings and Drawings 1961-1973, (exh. cat.), The Arts Council of Great Britain, 1973, p.9).
Study for Point Movement demonstrates the methodology and patient research behind the Artist’s early revolutionary black and white paintings. This work lays bare Riley's thought process as we witness her ground breaking investigations into visual phenomena. As the title indicates, Riley's concern here is with movement and more importantly describing movement in visual terms. In these intricate studies, we follow the subtle shifts in the points of simple black triangles which oscillate between elongation and contraction as they rotate progressively forward. These systematic explorations of the scientific theory behind the geometric properties of a triangle can be seen in her fully worked iconic paintings of the time. It is in drawings such as this that we see the depth of enquiry behind the finished paintings. Indeed, there are few other artists who have so thoroughly and successfully engaged in an analysis of the sensation of vision as Bridget Riley. This was to be recognised a couple of years later in 1968 when Riley became not only the first woman but also the first living British artist to win the painter's prize at the Venice Biennale.
The landscape architect, Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe whose clients included King George VI, Lady Anne and Michael Tree and Stanley Seeger, was the first owner of this drawing. A friend of Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson, and a connoisseur of modernism, the groundbreaking ideas present in this work would have been much admired by him.
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