Bridget Riley Current 1964

  • Not on view

Current's painted undulating black and white lines appear to vibrate and form three-dimensional depressions that quiver on the painting's surface. The juxtaposition of black and white activates the painting with the semblance of movement and the appearance of other colors. In this and other early works, Riley "wanted the space between the picture plane and the spectator to be active." She later explored color contrast.

Gallery label from 2006.
Additional text

Current's hand-painted lines appear to vibrate and give the illusion of three-dimensional depth. Relying on her own observations of how perception can arouse certain physiological sensations, Riley sought to create a "disturbance" in her early paintings—which, like this one, were primarily black and whitein order to activate "the space between the picture plane and the spectator." Current was included in The Responsive Eye, the 1965 MoMA exhibition that helped to define a new style known as Op art, which exploited the optical effects of patterned abstractions and contrasting colors.

Gallery label from Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction, April 19 - August 13, 2017.
Synthetic polymer paint on board
58 3/8 x 58 7/8" (148.1 x 149.3 cm)
Philip Johnson Fund
Object number
Painting and Sculpture

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