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Charles Gaines, Bridget Riley

2022 Newly Elected Members of American Academy of Arts and Letters

Left: Charles Gaines, photo: Fredrik Nilsen, Right: Bridget Riley, photo courtesy of the Bridget Riley Archive
Left: Charles Gaines, photo: Fredrik Nilsen, Right: Bridget Riley, photo courtesy of the Bridget Riley Archive

We congratulate Charles Gaines and Bridget Riley on their selection into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, one of the highest forms of recognition of artistic merit in the United States.

An honour society of the country’s leading architects, artists, composers, and writers, the American Academy of Arts and Letters was founded in 1898. Early members include William Merritt Chase, Childe Hassam, Julia Ward Howe, John Singer Sargent, and Mark Twain.

American Academy of Arts and Letters


Additional:

Charles Gaines

Moving Chains (installation)
Governors Island, New York City
15 October 2022 – June 2023

Charles Gaines, Moving Chains, 2022, courtesy of Creative Time, photography by Timothy Schenk
Charles Gaines, Moving Chains, 2022, courtesy of Creative Time, photography by Timothy Schenk

The artist’s first public artwork, Moving Chains, is now open to the public on Governors Island, New York City.  Built from steel and sustainably harvested Sapel – a tree native to West Africa commonly referred to as ‘African Mahogany’ – the 110-foot-long kinetic sculpture is activated by colossal chains rotating overhead anchors. Recalling the history of slavery, the installation addresses systemic racism in contemporary America through a powerfully embodied visual experience.

Moving Chains is the second part of Gaines’ ‘The American Manifest’, a three-part project of multimedia performances, sculpture, and educational sessions offering a critical commentary of American capitalism. Part one of the project consisted of a sculptural display of seven upside-down sweetgum trees, titled Roots, in Times Square. For part three, Moving Chains will travel to the banks of the Ohio River in Cincinnati in Summer 2023.


Bridget Riley

Bridget Riley Drawings: From the Artist’s Studio (publication)
Published by Modern Art Press
Edited by Jay A. Clarke, Rachel Federman and Cynthia Burlingham
Contributions by Thomas Crow

Image: Bridget Riley Drawings: From the Artist's Studio, © Bridget Riley 2022. All rights reserved.
Image: Bridget Riley Drawings: From the Artist's Studio, © Bridget Riley 2022. All rights reserved.

Published on the occasion of Bridget Riley’s solo exhibition at the Art Institute Chicago, Bridget Riley Drawings: From the Artist Studio explores the importance of Riley’s works on paper as means of visual experimentation and works of art in their own right, illustrating the story of a career underpinned by drawing. 

The illustrated catalogue, by Modern Art Press, is available to preorder and will be published on 11 October 2022.

The Art Institute Chicago


Bridget Riley

Bridget Riley Drawings: From the Artist’s Studio (solo show)
Art Institute of Chicago
17 September 2022 – 16 January 2023

Image: Bridget Riley, July 1 Bassacs, 1994. © Bridget Riley, Photo courtesy of The Art Institute of Chicago.
Image: Bridget Riley, July 1 Bassacs, 1994. © Bridget Riley, Photo courtesy of The Art Institute of Chicago.

Bridget Riley considers drawing to be an essential part of her—and any—artistic practice. For more than 60 years, the British artist has created abstract, geometric paintings and drawings that challenge and delight the senses. These studies range from working drawings on graph paper to finished gouaches and serve alternately to anticipate and accompany her paintings.

Bridget Riley Drawings: From the Artist’s Studio
is the first and most extensive museum exhibition dedicated exclusively to Riley’s drawings in over half a century. The exhibition presents approximately 90 sheets from the artist’s own collection, kept as part of her dynamic studio practice. These works cover the full range of her career—from her student days in the late 1940s, when she dedicated herself exclusively to drawing courses at Goldsmiths College, through her groundbreaking black-and-white optical works of the early 1960s and the innovative colour studies she has produced from the late 1960s to the present day.

In one gallery of the exhibition, Riley has selected works from the Art Institute’s permanent collection to pay homage to the artists who have influenced her work. These include paintings and drawings by Paul Klee, Piet Mondrian, Georges Seurat, and others.

Art Institute of Chicago


Bridget Riley

Working Drawings (publication)

Thames & Hudson has published Bridget Riley: Working Drawings, the first-ever book dedicated to the celebrated British artist’s working drawings. This volume richly illustrates the thinking that goes into Riley’s work through a selection of over 150 drawings, colour analyses, notations, scale studies and cartoons, most of which were exhibited at the artist’s recent seminal retrospective exhibitions in Edinburg and London from 2019 to 2020 organized by the National Galleries of Scotland. The selection spans most of Riley’s working life, tracing the origins and evolving nature of her remarkable body of work. Riley’s beginnings are also documented through selected childhood drawings, work made during and immediately following her studies at Goldsmiths’ College and the Royal College of Art, and her early explorations into abstraction.

The artist’s working method is brought into high relief in a newly commissioned conversation with Riley and Sir John Leighton, Director of the National Galleries of Scotland. The text explores the cardinal moments in the artist’s practice and the impulses that bring her work into existence. The volume also includes four previously published texts dedicated to Riley’s studies and practice written by the artist herself, art historians, curators and museum directors, which shed further light on the enduring role of drawing and the process of exploration central to her work.

Get your copy here.


Charles Gaines

Dia Beacon, Beacon (solo show)
19 February 2021 – 5 February 2023

Charles Gaines, Shadow IX, Set 3, 1980, © Charles Gaines, photo: Fredrik Nilsen, courtesy of the artist
Charles Gaines, Shadow IX, Set 3, 1980, © Charles Gaines, photo: Fredrik Nilsen, courtesy of the artist

Charles Gaines has been interrogating the way meaning is constructed through lyrical, system-based work since the 1970s, when he began incorporating the grid as a central formal device in his work. A key figure in the development of Conceptual art, the artist analyzes, overlaps, and juxtaposes different systems of representation—mathematical, photographic, linguistic, notational—in order to reveal individual fallacies and collective poignancy. This focused, collection-based survey follows Dia’s recent acquisition of a body of work by Gaines. The exhibition brings the artist’s first mathematically determined grid drawings and early experiments with transcribing photographic images into numerical notations together with more recent investigations into how image, identity, and language are represented and deconstructed.

Gaines began incorporating the grid into his work—an important formal device in modern art movements such as Minimalism—in the early 1970s. In conversation with artists who he first encountered in New York City, such as Hanne Darboven and Sol LeWitt (with whom he developed a close friendship), Gaines began using serial calculations and systematic procedures to create work that at once resists subjective expression and cultivates ambiguity. As the artist explains, “I looked for tropes, like mathematics, that do not privilege the creative unconscious. Through ‘systems’ I could go where the imagination couldn’t and bring things that otherwise would not be thought about to light. Out of this I began using the grid.”

Gaines’s first grid works, the Regression series, consists of four groups of seven drawings each determined by a set of mathematical combinations whose values are transcribed onto grids and recalibrated into abstract shapes. A cascading computational system of numbers generates the works and produces forms that sequentially expand and contract like waves. Abstraction and order converge in these drawings, which prefigure the artist’s later interests in speech and sound. Taking Regression: Drawings #1–7, Group #2 (recently acquired by Dia) as its point of departure, this exhibition explores the complex production of meaning that emerges in Gaines’s metonymical practice.

Alongside the Regressions, Dia will present selections from Gaines’s Walnut Tree Orchard, Faces, and Shadows series. In the wake of Gaines’s first experimentations with the grid, these works use color-coded numerical extrapolations of photographs that are layered into gridded drawings. What begins as indexical mapping crescendos into an abstraction, which belies the technical precision and presumed objectivity of the photographic form and creates space for multiple representational structures to exist at once.

Since the early 2000s, Gaines’s practice has come to encompass sculpture, video, sound, and performance. He continues to probe the liminal space that emerges from the juxtaposition of different structures of meaning, particularly music and language. However, these newer works reveal an increased and explicit preoccupation with the complex relationship between aesthetics and social justice. Dia’s exhibition will include a work from Gaines’s Librettos: Manuel de Falla/Stokeley Carmichael series, which plots the text of a Carmichael speech over the score for de Falla’s tragic opera La vida breve (1904–05). Black Ghost Blues Redux (2008), a video work made by Gaines in collaboration with Hoyun Son, will be accessible on Dia’s website throughout the run of the exhibition.

Dia Beacon


Charles Gaines

A brush with... Charles Gaines (podcast)

Charles Gaines, photo: Holger Niehaus
Charles Gaines, photo: Holger Niehaus

In the latest episode, from the second series of the podcast, "A brush with...", Charles Gaines talks to The Art Newspaper about his influences, cultural experiences and how they have affected his life and work. Gaines discusses the impact of visiting the Metropolitan Museum's collection of African art during a period in which he "completely rethought who [he] was, not only as a person but as a Black person in America".

Listen to the podcast here.

The Art Newspaper


Bridget Riley

Intervals 1, 2019
recently acquired by the National Gallery of Ireland

Installation view: Bridget Riley, Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin, September – October 2020, photo: def image, work © Bridget Riley 2020. All rights reserved
Installation view: Bridget Riley, Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin, September – October 2020, photo: def image, work © Bridget Riley 2020. All rights reserved

We are pleased to announce that Bridget Riley's Intervals 1, 2019, is now part of the collection of the National Gallery of Ireland. 

National Gallery of Ireland


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