Optical Art

Creating artwork through geometric patterns and optical illusions


Op Art utilizes optical illusions in order to create unique designs. Learning about why artist decided to create in this way, helps students to understand concept.

Essential Question:

Why did artists us optical illusions to express their artwork?

Artist Spotlight: Bridget Riley

Focusing isn't just an optical activity, it is also a mental one.-Bridget Riley

Bridget Riley was born at Norwood, London, the daughter of a businessman. Her childhood was spent in Cornwall and Lincolnshire. She studied at Goldsmiths' College from 1949 to 1952, and at the Royal College of Art from 1952 to 1955. She began painting figure subjects in a semi-impressionist manner, then changed to pointillism around 1958, mainly producing landscapes. In 1960 she evolved a style in which she explored the dynamic potentialities of optical phenomena. These so-called 'Op-art' pieces, such as Fall, 1963 (Tate Gallery T00616), produce a disorienting physical effect on the eye.

Source: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/bridget-riley-1845

Talking Points

  1. What is different about viewing one of Bridget Riley's Op Art pieces, as opposed to other drawings you've seen?

  2. What was happening in the 1950-60s that could have expired Riley to work in black and white?

  3. How does it make you feel, when looking at these pieces?

  4. What do you think the purpose is in making these images optical illusions?

  5. Why do you think Riley moved to Optical Art?