Famous as an early proponent of Op Art, Bridget Riley was born in Norwood, South London, in 1931. Riley’s artistic education began at Goldsmiths college of art in 1949, then at the Royal College in 1952 where she counted among her peers Peter Blake and Frank Auerbach.
Riley exhibited her artwork in a number of group shows at this early stage, including the ‘Young Contemporaries’, London, in 1955, and at the South London Art Gallery in 1958. It was during her teaching period in the early 1960s that Riley honed her personal artistic style. Having flirted with pointillism, the technique of painting with dots, Riley discovered her own method of treating optics in paint.
Riley’s ground-breaking mode was received with great popularity and in 1965 she exhibited in the New York show, entitled, ‘The Responsive Eye’, which first propelled the concept of ‘Op’ art into the media spotlight. It was not until 1967 that she splashed into colour and the optical possibilities which polychromy could afford.
Riley was awarded the International Prize for Painting in 1968. She was the first British contemporary painter, and first woman, to receive the prestigious prize.