Bridget Riley, Thomas Struth et al.

The Lie of the Land (group show)
MK Gallery, Milton Keynes
16 March - 26 May 2019

Through a playful and provocative display The Lie of the Land charts how British landscape was radically transformed by changes in free time and leisure activities since hunting and shooting, the recreations of the aristocracy, were enjoyed on the rolling hills of their private estates. In part, tracing a line between Capability Brown’s aristocratic gardens at Stowe and the social, urban experiment at neighbouring Milton Keynes, the exhibition teases out the aspirations that underpin our built environments.

The Lie of the Land examines the modernisation of leisure propelled by industrialisation, a theme developed from Canaletto’s painting of the fashionable public entertainment venue, Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. The Victorian era, with its social reforms aiming to improve urban living conditions, is represented by the Parks Movement. Alongside works by early science fiction writer Jane Loudon and the founder of the Garden City Movement Ebenezer Howard, the exhibition also includes the first-ever lawnmower, John Ruskin’s rock collection and influential horticulturalist Gertrude Jekyll’s gardening boots.

From the late-18th century, large-scale public spectacles became hugely popular as a result of technical advances. Hot air ballooning, horse racing and concerts heralded the commodification of leisure. By contrast, grassroots-initiated activity such as raves, carnivals and urban sports are traced in the work of, for example, Jeremy Deller and Errol Lloyd and use of public spaces for protest are explored, including the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp occupation. 
As the 20th century progressed, in Milton Keynes, chief architect Derek Walker proposed a city greener than the surrounding countryside where cars, electronic communication and nature reinvented the idea of the town-country for the 1970s. Radical urban theory was to be combined with the LA lifestyle and the thrill of pop culture – also reflected in the art of Richard Hamilton and Eduardo Paolozzi.

The Lie of the Land highlights campaigns to democratise space, from the 17th century egalitarian Levellers to the 1930s Ramblers. We look at how people use public space, and the communities that have been excluded through structures of race, gender, disability and class, explored in works by artists including Jo Spence, Rose Finn-Kelcey and Ingrid Pollard.

Overall, the exhibition aims to capture a visionary spirit of grand designs tempered by the realities of political expediency. Public resources are under increasing pressure and ‘placemaking’ and ‘regeneration’ remain central to urban development. The Lie of the Land looks reflexively at the role of culture in this process, drawing inspiration and seeking lessons from the past.

MK Gallery, Milton Keynes


Bridget Riley et al.

Living with art. Picasso to Celmins (group show)

Spanning almost one hundred years of modern art, this exhibition will showcase highlights from the wide-ranging collection of Alexander Walker (1930–2003), longstanding film critic for London's Evening Standard newspaper and prolific collector of modern and contemporary prints and drawings.

In life, Walker surrounded himself with works from his collection in all rooms of his Maida Vale flat including his kitchen and bathroom.

He bought works of art for pleasure rather than financial gain and generously left his collection of over 200 works on paper to the British Museum when he died. This is the first exhibition in over 10 years to showcase the art through the lens of his collection.

The exhibition will include 30 prints and drawings by artists ranging from Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse to Lucian Freud, Bridget Riley, David Hockney and Vija Celmins. It will demonstrate Walker's interest in artists' working methods and in transitional pieces that show an artist developing a new style or subject, or experimenting with a new technique.

The exhibition aims to trace the development of 20th-century art in Europe and America through key pieces in Walker's collection, which he viewed as a record of his own art-historical education. It will also demonstrate Walker's own tastes from the figurative to the abstract and consider what motivates collectors like Walker to surround themselves with art.

 With the support of the Dorset Foundation, the exhibition will travel to four venues from April 2020 until May 2021.

Tour Schedule:
British Museum, 14 January – 5 March 2020
Winchester Discovery Centre, 4 April – 28 June 2020
Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery, 3 August – 4 October 2020
F. E. McWilliam Gallery and Studio, Northern Ireland, 17 October 2020 – 30 January 2021
National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, 20 February – 30 May 2021

British Museum

Bridget Riley

Vertigo. Op Art and a History of Deception 1520–1970 (group show)
Kunstmuseum Stuttgart
23 November 2019 – 19 April 2020

Bridget Riley,
Bridget Riley, "Hesitate", 1964. Photo: © Tate, London 2019. © Bridget Riley 2019. All rights reserved

The art movement Op Art emerged around the mid-1950s. Geometric patterns, optical illusions, and light effects in diverse manifestations constituted its artistic content. Op artists worked collaboratively on a notion of "Visual research" in art. To realize new expressive forms, they tried out materials like corrugated industrial glass and black and laser light and explored the effect of moving artworks on viewers.

Works of Op Art overwhelm viewers in various ways. After all, Op Art doesn't just address our sense of sight; by manipulating perception, it provokes an experience that affects the entire body – to the point of possibly triggering a dizzying sensory overload. The show's title, "Vertigo", taken from Alfred Hitchcock's famous film of 1958, refers to this aspect.

The exhibition comprises a broad spectrum of panel paintings, reliefs, and mechanically driven objects as well as installations, experience spaces, and computer-generated art from the 1950s to around 1970. Op Art was a European movement, and thus on view are among other things works by Bridget Riley (GB), Gianni Colombo (IT), Gerhard von Graevenitz (DE), Nicolas Schöffer (HU), and Victor Vasarely (HU). The show also demonstrates that Op Art had precursors in earlier, anti-classical eras and in this sense can be referred to as the Mannerism of Concrete Art. The presentation therefore includes artworks from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries by artist such as Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Erhard Schön, and Claude Mellan, in which optical effects likewise play a role.

Kunstmuseum Stuttgart

Thomas Struth et al.

Icons. Worship and Adoration. (group show)
Kunsthalle Bremen, Bremen
19 October 2019 – 1 March 2020

With this spectacular exhibition the Kunsthalle Bremen is celebrating a premiere: For the first time, an exhibition will take place in the entire museum and all the galleries. The show will examine how the concept of the icon unites aspects of the sacred, worship and the idea of transcendence. The qualities of traditional icons continue to live on in the spiritual presence and auratic power of many modern and contemporary works of art.

Focussing on a single work of art, the presentation examines various aspects of spirituality, devotion and adoration. It invites visitors to experience iconic art works from ten centuries in a new and intense way. Works by Caspar David Friedrich, Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, Mark Rothko, Yves Klein, Niki de Saint Phalle, Isa Genzken, Andreas Gursky and Kehinde Wiley will be complemented by everyday icons – from consumer brands to icons of popular culture such as Marilyn Monroe, Beyoncé and YouTube stars. An interpretation of the traditional notion of the icon in art will be juxtaposed with the proliferation of icons in everyday life.

Kunsthalle Bremen

Bridget Riley

Messengers (wall painting)
The National Gallery, London
From 17 January 2019

Bridget Riley with Messengers by Bridget Riley, Annenberg Court, The National Gallery © 2019 Bridget Riley. All rights reserved / Photo: The National Gallery, London
Bridget Riley with Messengers by Bridget Riley, Annenberg Court, The National Gallery © 2019 Bridget Riley. All rights reserved / Photo: The National Gallery, London

See Messengers, a new large-scale wall painting by Bridget Riley: one of the most important artists of her generation.

The title, Messengers, is inspired by a phrase Constable used when referring to clouds, and might also be an allusion to the numerous angels, bearers of news, that we see in the skies of so many National Gallery pictures.

Painted directly onto the wall of the Annenberg Court and spanning a vast 10 x 20 metres, the abstract work, comprised of coloured discs, carries influences from our historic collection over into the 21st century. Throughout art history, harmonies of colour have played a large part in pictorial composition.Taking as a point of departure the paintings of George Seurat, in particular Bathers at Asnières, Bridget Riley’s 'Messengers' transforms the Annenberg Court into a great white space in which coloured discs float as clouds drift in the lanes of the sky. By leaving after-images on the viewer's retina that suggest volume and movement the longer it is perceived, the work becomes a tribute to its artistic predecessors and to the process of looking at art itself.

Bridget Riley (born 1931) has a long-standing relationship with the Gallery; she made copies of paintings in the collection including Jan van Eyck’s Portrait of a Man (Self Portrait?), 1433, as a teenager as part of her portfolio when applying to Goldsmiths College, London, just after the end of the Second World War, and Georges Seurat's Bathers at Asnières while training as an artist.

In 1989 Riley was invited to select that year’s Artist’s Eye exhibition and between 2010 and 2011 the Gallery held her acclaimed exhibition Bridget Riley: Paintings and Related Work.

The National Gallery, London