Bridget Riley Fission 1962

  • MoMA, Floor 1

The distortion of the black dots at this painting's center creates the optical illusion that the image surface is caving in. In this and other early works, Riley wanted to activate the relationship between the viewer and the work. As the title implies, the surface seems to be folding or opening, suggesting that the viewer could be swallowed up by it. While the black dots on the white surface don’t depict something or tell a story, as in a traditional painting, the sense of space this painting creates is not unlike the illusion created by the use of traditional linear perspective.

Gallery label from 2007.
Tempera on board
35 x 34" (88.8 x 86.2 cm)
Gift of Philip Johnson
Object number
Painting and Sculpture

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