Bridget Riley, Measure for Measure 36 (detail), 2018, acrylic on canvas, Private collection © 2022 Bridget Riley, All rights reserved

Announcing Bridget Riley: Perceptual Abstraction

Major survey of paintings by Bridget Riley opens March 3

NEW HAVEN, CT (March 2, 2022)—The Yale Center for British Art (YCBA) will present Bridget Riley: Perceptual Abstraction from March 3 through July 24, 2022. Born in London in 1931, Riley is among the most important and influential painters in Britain and the world. Over the course of her seven-decades-long career she has enjoyed a continuing dialogue with museums, galleries, critics, and collectors in the United States. This major survey traces Riley’s oeuvre from the 1960s through the present by featuring over fifty works that were selected by the artist in collaboration with the YCBA.

“It has been a privilege to develop this survey with Bridget Riley and to see her paintings and drawings through her eyes. She points out things that we may overlook and invites us to experience her art in new ways. All the works in this exhibition were selected by Riley. It is truly her show,” said Courtney J. Martin, Paul Mellon Director of the Yale Center for British Art. “Riley might be best known for her early 1960s paintings, but the works, selected with her for the YCBA, reveal her as an artist and thinker of exceptional consequence who continued to innovate and push her practice over decades.”

The exhibition unfolds over two floors of the museum. It opens with Riley’s iconic painting Current (1964) which propelled her into the international spotlight when it was exhibited in The Responsive Eye at The Museum of Modern Art in 1965. It was this eager reception in the US that would set the tone for Riley’s international reputation. A full floor of the exhibition is dedicated to the black and white work of the 1960s, offering an in-depth exploration of Riley’s early perceptual abstraction.

The second part of the exhibition is flooded with color and light. Displayed on an entire floor, it presents Riley’s exploration of color and the shift from tonal modulations into saturated color. Starting with Late Morning, which was exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1968, the exhibition traces Riley’s first paintings with a limited palette and a dramatically wider landscape format. This presentation of major large-scale works shows how the cycle of repose-disturbance-repose has been overtaken by a logic of sensation, to remain an anchor point throughout her practice.

The exhibition also explores Riley’s prints and studies. The seven Fragments (1965) prints on plexiglass show her working with new materials and new imagery. The four prints from the Nineteen Greys (1968) series play color and tone with and against each other through the agency of turning ovals. The gouache studies on paper provide an insight into how Riley works from inception to completion in the studio.

The exhibition was conceived by the artist in collaboration with Courtney J. Martin, Paul Mellon Director, Yale Center for British Art, working with Maryam Ohadi-Hamadani, former Postdoctoral Research Associate, with the assistance of Martina Droth, Deputy Director and Chief Curator; Charlotte Lefland, Senior Curatorial Assistant, Prints and Drawings; and Rachel Stratton, Postdoctoral Research Associate.

Publication

The Yale Center for British Art will offer free of charge a digital publication, Bridget Riley: Perceptual Abstraction, which explores Bridget Riley’s long and prolific career—her early, energetic black-and-white work, her experimentation with gray, and her signature innovations with color and arresting patterns. The catalogue includes essays by Maryam Ohadi-Hamadani, Bridget Riley, and Rachel Stratton.

Related Programs

A series of online programs will accompany the exhibition. Please visit britishart.yale.edu for the most-up-to-date information.

Bridget Riley Symposium
Saturday, May 14
Panels, 9 am–noon; 1–3 pm
Respondent, James Meyer (Yale BA 1984), Curator of Modern Art, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

Keynote Conversation, 3:30–5 pm
Anoka Faruqee (Yale BA 1994), Professor and Co-director of Graduate Studies, Painting and Printmaking, Yale School of Art; and Pamela Lee (Yale BA 1988), Carnegie Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art, Department of the History of Art, Yale University; moderated by Molleen Theodore, Associate Curator of Programs, Yale University Art Gallery

at home: in Conversation
Friday, May 6, noon
The Im-perceptible
Richard A. Shiff (Yale PhD 1973), Effie Marie Cain Regents Chair in Art, The University of Texas at Austin 

Friday, June 17, noon
Material Concerns: Preserving Appearances
Sandra Amann, painting conservator, Amann+Estabrook Conservation Associates, in discussion with Mark Aronson, Deputy Director and Chief Conservator, YCBA.

Friday, July 8, noon
Bridget Riley Drawings
Cynthia Burlingham, Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Jay A. Clarke, Rothman Family Curator, Prints and Drawings, The Art Institute of Chicago; and Rachel Federman, Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Drawings, The Morgan Library & Museum, New York; moderated by Rachel Stratton, Postdoctoral Research Associate, YCBA.

Hours and Visitor Guidelines

The Yale Center for British Art reopens to the public on Thursday, March 3, 10 am to 5 pm, in celebration of Bridget Riley: Perceptual Abstraction. For the remainder of the month, the museum will be open on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 am to 5 pm, and Sundays from noon to 5 pm. Per Yale University policy, masks and COVID-19 vaccination are required for entry. Visit our website for the most up-to-date information.

About the Yale Center for British Art

The Yale Center for British Art (YCBA) houses the largest collection of British art outside the United Kingdom, encompassing works in a range of media from the fifteenth century to the present. The museum offers a vibrant program of events and exhibitions year-round in person and online. Opened to the public in 1977, the YCBA’s core collection and landmark building—designed by architect Louis I. Kahn—were a gift to Yale University from the collector and philanthropist Paul Mellon (Yale College, Class of 1929). Visit the YCBA at britishart.yale.edu and connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube @yalebritishart.

Media kit

Download our document and images related to this exhibition.