Bridget Riley Awarded Siegen’s Prestigious Rubens Prize

Bridget Riley

The award has been presented every five years since 1955 to a painter living in Europe in honor of his or her lifetime’s artistic accomplishment. Riley, who was born in London in 1931, is one of the most distinguished female painters of our time. On July 1, 2012 she was honored for her life’s oeuvre with the City of Siegen’s Rubens Prize.The Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen is honoring Bridget Riley with an exhibition of her work. to mark the occasion.

Bridget Riley since the mid-1960s is known for her distinctive, optically vibrant paintings, called coined “Op Art.” She explores optical phenomena and juxtaposes color either by using a chromatic technique of identifiable hues or by selecting achromatic colors (black, white or gray). In doing so, her work appears to flicker, pulsate and move, encouraging the viewer’s visual tension. Riley’s vibrant optical pattern paintings, which she painted in the 1960s, were hugely popular and become a hallmark of the period. As your eyes explore the picture to the left, can you continue to see momentary afterimages (white dots) that cause a slight flickering effect? 

The Rubens Prize of the City of Siegen,is given to a painter or graphic artist whose life’s work has been groundbreaking on the European stage. The title recalls the painter-diplomat Peter Paul Rubens, who expressed in his life’s work the thought of European unity, long before it could become a political reality. Peter Paul Rubens – who was born in Siegen, grew up in Cologne and Antwerp, trained in art in Italy, was esteemed in France and acted as a diplomat in Spain and England – as the main master of European Baroque painting set those artistic and European standards to which the awarding of the prize has been bound since 1957-1958.

Past prizewinners:

    • Hans Hartung (1957/1958)
    • Giorgio Morandi (1962)
    • Francis Bacon (1967)
    • Antoni Tàpies (1972)
    • Fritz Winter (1977)
    • Emil Schumacher (1982)
    • Cy Twombly (1987)
    • Rupprecht Geiger (1992)
    • Lucian Freud (1997)
    • Maria Lassnig (2002)
    • Sigmar Polke (2007)
    • Bridget Riley (2012)