March 9, 2022

Bridget Riley: Perceptual Abstraction

Yale Center for British Art

Bridget Riley, New Day (detail), 1988. Oil on canvas. Courtesy of the Bridget Riley Collection. © Bridget Riley.

Bridget Riley: Perceptual Abstraction is on view at the Yale Center for British Art through July 24, 2022. Born in Britain in 1931, Riley is among the most important and influential painters in Britain and the world. Over the course of her seven-decade-long career, she has used color, line, and geometric pattern to explore the dynamic nature of visual perception across paintings, drawings, and screen prints. Selected by the artist and displayed on two floors, the works in this exhibition comprise the largest survey of Riley's work in the United States in twenty years. The show opens with an in-depth examination of Riley's seminal monochrome paintings of the 1960s on the third floor and presents the full range of her oeuvre in color on the second floor. Assembling Riley's most iconic paintings alongside rarely seen works, including prints and studies, the exhibition traces the evolution of her deep engagement with the fundamentals of visual perception.

“Looking carefully at paintings is the best training you can have as a young painter,” Riley has said of her deep appreciation of the work of painters of the past. Subsequently, for this exhibition, she has selected an oil study by John Constable from the Yale Center for British Art and a watercolor by Eugène Delacroix from the Yale University Art Gallery to hang alongside her own work. A complementary display of Bridget Riley prints from the YCBA’s collection is on view in the Study Room.

Bridget Riley: Perceptual Abstraction 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.

The Yale Center for British Art will offer free of charge a digital publication, Bridget Riley: Perceptual Abstraction, which explores 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 click here for the most-up-to-date information.

Hours and visitor guidelines
The Yale Center for British Art is currently open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays from 10am to 5pm, and on Sundays from noon to 5pm. In accordance with Yale University guidelines, all visitors must wear masks and bring proof of COVID-19 vaccination (booster if eligible). Check here for updates and additional information.

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