The Morgan Library & Museum presents 'Bridget Riley Drawings: From the Artist's Studio'
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The Morgan Library & Museum presents 'Bridget Riley Drawings: From the Artist's Studio'
Bridget Riley (b. 1931), July 1 Bassacs, 1994. Collection of the artist. © Bridget Riley 2023. All rights reserved.

NEW YORK, NY.- The Morgan Library & Museum is presenting Bridget Riley Drawings: From the Artist’s Studio on view from June 23 to October 8, 2023. British artist Bridget Riley (b. 1931) is one of the most celebrated abstract painters of her generation. This exhibition—the first dedicated exclusively to her drawings in over fifty years—provides an intimate view of Riley's studio practice, in which the making of works on paper plays a central role. The exhibition features more than 75 studies created between the 1940s and the 2000s from the artist's collection that have been meticulously kept and cared for as part of a personal and artistic archive. They include early figurative and landscape drawings made during her student years; black-and-white studies for Riley's best-known paintings from the 1960s, when she became closely associated with the Op art movement; and a diverse array of color compositions, which have occupied her attention since the late 1960s. Together they demonstrate Riley's unceasing commitment to paper, pencil, ink, and gouache, as tools of exploration and innovation.

Riley’s early student drawings made in the 1950s drew inspiration from the human form and nature to establish the foundation for her investigation of pure abstraction. In 1960 Riley moved abruptly from making representational drawings to creating purely abstract sheets that depict meticulously composed geometric forms in black and white. Although a stark departure from her early figurative and landscape work, this new direction was in fact a solution to Riley’s earlier efforts to find a pictorial structure equivalent to vision itself. These studies range from working drawings on graph paper to finished gouaches and serve to anticipate her paintings. The drawings, along with a small selection of paintings, reflect what Riley considers an essential part of her, and any, artistic practice. She has described the process of drawing “as though there is an eye at the end of my pencil, which tries, independently of my general-purpose eye, to penetrate a kind of obscuring veil or thickness.”

Colin B. Bailey, Director of the Morgan Library & Museum, said, “We are honored that Bridget Riley selected the Morgan Library & Museum as one of the institutions to present the first exhibition in nearly five decades to look at her drawing practice. This special body of work provides an insightful look into Riley’s creative process over the course of her career.

The exhibition is curated by Rachel Federman, Associate Curator, Modern and Contemporary Drawings, the Morgan Library & Museum; Cynthia Burlingham, Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs, Hammer Museum; and Jay A. Clarke, Rothman Family Curator, Prints and Drawings, Art Institute of Chicago. Bridget Riley Drawings: From the Artist’s Studio is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with essays by exhibition curators Jay Clarke and Rachel Federman, and by art historian Thomas Crow. Designed by Tim Harvey and published by Modern Art Press, the book is available at the Morgan Shop or online.

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