Bridget Riley, Pause, 1964. Emulsion on board, 46" x 46."
Bridget Riley, Deny II, 1967. Emulsion on canvas, 86" x 86."
I spent some time thinking about who and what I would like cover in the 50th installment of "Paintings I Like." I've never really had a master plan for the series in terms of artists or periods, I've always just shown things that I was thinking about, or had seen recently, or both.
As I looked down the long list of posts, though, I realized that there are quite a few artists who are conspicuously missing; none more glaringly so than Bridget Riley and Gerhard Richter, both of whom I consider to be among the greatest living painters.
In the end I chose Bridget because she's such a huge influence on me, specifically on the way that I articulate pictorial space. In the '60's, her conception of an illusionistic space occupied by flattened, abstract motifs was very much at odds with modernist abstraction, which was moving toward a greater emphasis on two-dimensionality. The fact that her work was absorbed so quickly into the language of pop culture gave her detractors even more ammunition against her.
As time, passed, however, her reputation was resurrected and she's finally receiving some long overdue respect. Her retrospective at the Dia Art Foundation in NYC in 2000 was literally breathtaking, I remember getting butterflies.
I called one of my professors at the time to ask if he had seen the show yet. He had and I asked him what he thought. He said, "It was like being in church." I couldn't have put it any better myself.