Contemporary Art

Blockbuster Bridget Riley Retrospective Opens in Scotland

By Sotheby's

A blockbuster exhibition celebrating Bridget Riley, one of the most distinguished and original artists working today, is due to open at the National Galleries of Scotland on 15 June as part of the Edinburgh Arts Festival.

It will be the first UK retrospective of the pioneer of abstract painting for more than 16 years, and promises to showcase her groundbreaking and experimental work by exhibiting around 50 major paintings along with early works on paper, some of which have never before been on public display.

Spanning seven decades of Riley's illustrious career, the exhibition is the result of a partnership between the NGS and London's Hayward Gallery, and was arranged in close collaboration with the artist herself. After premiering in Edinburgh, the exhibition will travel to London where it will be shown from October 2019 until January 2020 at the Hayward Gallery, sponsored by Sotheby's.

The show places special emphasis on the origins of Riley's work, her careful study of other painters including Matisse, Monet and Mondrian and her interpretation of nature and the world around us through a purely abstract language of simple shapes, forms and color to create sensations of light, space, volume, rhythm and movement.

Ranging from early drawings, through iconic black and white paintings of the 1960s, to expansive colorful canvases, highlights will include Riley’s first abstract paintings, Kiss and Movement in Squares (both 1961) as well as Late Morning (1967-8) and Rise 1 (1968), both key, large-scale color paintings first shown at the 1968 Venice Biennale, where Riley was the first British contemporary painter to win the International Prize for painting.

Bridget Riley at Sotheby's Collector's Dinner. Photo: Sotheby's/Lara Arnott

Her extraordinary exploration of color's relativity will be tracked through her early vertical and horizontal stripe paintings, her twist and curve paintings of the 1970s and the second series of stripe paintings using her "Egyptian" color palette, one example of which – Bright Shade – is offered in the upcoming Contemporary Art Evening sale with an estimate of £600,000–800,000. Riley was also Guest of Honour at the annual Sotheby's Collector's Dinner on Friday 13 June.

Speaking about the exhibition, Simon Groom, Director of Modern and Contemporary Art at the NGS, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be bringing together so many major paintings from across Riley’s long and distinguished career to show the radical development and constant creative evolution of work by an artist who has been at the forefront of the international avant-garde since the early 1960s. In pioneering such a distinctive body of work, Riley has expanded the possibilities for painting, as she has profoundly changed the way we think about – and look at – art.”

Royal Scottish Academy
National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh
15 June to 22 September 2019

Hayward Gallery, London
23 October 2019 to 26 January 2020
Sotheby's is a proud sponsor of this exhibition

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