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Bridget Riley, 24/09/2005

From: Linda Zapczynski
Category: Art
Date: 03 October 2005


Bridget Riley in Conversation with Lynne Cooke Cranbrook Art Museum Bloomfield Hills, Michigan   On a small stage in an auditorium, Bridget Riley and Lynne Cooke sit in chairs facing each other, as though in conversation. Riley looks somewhat younger than her 74 years, only her irregular spiked reddish hair is out of the ordinary. She has a gentle smile, a mild manner, but is clearly passionate about art. Cooke is blond and stylish, an aficionado of the visual artist, a disector of art.

Bridget Riley, Op Art icon, traveled from her native Britain to host her third survey in North America. Hosted by Cranbrook Art Museum in Michigan, the event includes many of Riley's works on paper and a rare interview with Lynne Cooke, Curator at the Dia Art Foundation in New York.

"I'm always prepared, unlike many others", says Riley. "If you grope, you don't have much to do with it." Upon seeing her meticulously plotted work, one can agree that this specific style of art demands more than just preparation.

Riley has assistants to help out. "They have no handling or emphasis. I don't want to know what they think. They help me establish distance," She smiles to emphasize that ingredient. "It helps me to be as objective as I can. They've been good friends, good cooks." She laughs, with appreciation.

Cooke questions Riley's influences. "Monet was the first to see, of vision. In art school, I hated color. I didn't know what to do with it."

She explains her relationship to Matisse. "He moved between white grounds and color, like in cutouts." Bruce Nauman "uses formalism". Seurat was another influence.

Some influences were of nature. "My static painting is linked to an experience, driving up a hill, getting out and looking at the light on the shale." She adds the memories of dapples and reflections in nature, affecting her work. "In an abstract, it has an opportunity, it can come out," she explains.

In the Q&A after the discussion, an audience member asks about the Chinese and Egyptian titles that Riley has used. "The Chinese had feeling in their work and frames of mind," she explains.

Another woman asks about Riley's reactions to her viewers. "When they walk in and walk out, there's nothing I can do. But one time a woman walked up to a painting of mine, carrying shopping bags. She walked away, and came back, several times. Finally, she set her bags down, and looked closely at the work, obviously trying to see where it began and ended, the movement. This is what I want to see in my viewers."

Riley smiles, pleased and glowing.

For a child from Cornwall with a sometime education, "with no entertainment except for books", Bridget Riley has educated and entertained many, from scholars to children. Her art is for all, and will be an enigma for generations.

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