Bridget Riley

A Very Very Person. The Early Years

At last, the first biography of one of our greatest living artists. Although the book only covers her life up to her mid-thirties, it is a riveting study of a challenging childhood and the ensuing struggle to find her own way as an artist. Highly recommended to read before her major Hayward Gallery exhibition starts in October. - Staff Pick

First biography of the British icon of abstract art and pioneer of Op Art.

In January 1965 the international art world converged on New York and paid homage to a brilliant new star.

The glittering opening of The Responsive Eye, a major exhibition of abstract painting at the Museum of Modern Art, signalled the latest phenomenon, Op Art – and its centre of attention was a young woman.

Bridget Riley’s dazzling painting Current appeared on the cover of the catalogue; her first solo show in New York sold out; and when featured in Vogue magazine the Riley ‘look’ became a fashion craze. Overnight, she had become a sensation – in every sense. Yet only three years earlier, Riley was virtually unknown. How did success arrive so suddenly?

A Very Very Person is the first biography of Bridget Riley and addresses that tantalising question. Focusing on her early years, it tells the story of a remarkable woman whose art and life were entwined in surprising ways.

This intimate narrative explores Riley’s wartime childhood spent in the idyllic Cornish countryside, her subsequent struggles to find her way as an artist, and the personal crises and challenges she faced before finally arriving as one of the world’s most celebrated artists.

The author of this biography is Paul Moorhouse – Senior Curator of 20th-Century Collections and Head of Collections Displays (Victorian to Contemporary) at the National Portrait Gallery, London. 

See these book reviews in Hyperallergic, The Wall Street Journal and TLS (The Times Literary Supplement). In addition, Andrew Lambirth reviewed the book in Country Life Magazine, August 2019.

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