Bridget Riley Unveils New Site-Specific Window at Gemeentemuseum

Bridget Riley has unveiled a spectacular window commissioned by the Gemeentemuseum, The Hague. Entitled Dance the work of art took three years to realise and was specially commissioned for the museum’s grand first-floor reception area. This maintains a tradition of artists, including Sol LeWitt and Niele Toroni, creating new work specifically for the museum. 

Director Benno Tempel said: “We are enormously proud that Bridget Riley accepted this commission – a top international artist whose work is closely related to Mondrian’s – and with such spectacular results! It’s a dream come true.”

Bridget Riley said: “I felt honored to be offered this commission and I’m delighted with this particular location. The daylight behind the window lends it an extra dimension, making the result even better than I had hoped.”

Bridget Riley produced her iconic painting Tremor in 1962 but had not seen the work again until she visited the Gemeentemuseum in 2012. She had just become the first female artist ever to win the Sikkens Prize, and to mark the occasion the Gemeentemuseum had offered her an exhibition in the museum’s Projects Gallery.

It was Riley’s idea to include Tremor in the exhibition, and when she came face to face with the work for the first time in so many years, she was transfixed. Curator Hans Janssen watched as she stood and stared at it for over 10 minutes. The encounter would trigger a series of works in which Riley returned to the black-and-white triangles of her 1960s paintings Tremor and Burn – a new departure that would lead her to create Dance, the window she has designed for the museum’s first-floor reception area.

Bridget Riley has long been fascinated by the work of Piet Mondrian and has formed strong links to the Gemeentemuseum.   Not only because of their common interest in abstract compositions but because Mondrian spent his entire life engaged in a poetic translation of his deep desire to harmonize the contrasts of paint, form, and colour. It was Riley’s fascination with Mondrian that first drew her to the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag in 1996. Ever since then, the museum has maintained close links with her. After Riley won the Sikkens Prize in 2012, she staged a show of new and existing work in the museum’s Projects Gallery. In addition, the direct relationship between her work and Mondrian’s was highlighted by adding a space hung with examples of her recent work to the permanent display on Mondrian & De Stijl. Most recently, the close relationship between the artist and the museum led to the solo exhibition Bridget Riley – The Curve Paintings. 1961-2014, which closed on 23 October this year.

Berlage’s total work of art: Designed by the celebrated Dutch architect H.P. Berlage, the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag was the first truly modern museum to be built anywhere in the world. Since its opening in 1935, many other museums have followed the example set by this unique and historic home of the arts. Berlage intended the museum to be a ‘total work of art’ in the Wagnerian sense. Since the 1980s, the museum has lent a new dimension to this idea by collaborating with artists on the permanent integration of new, specially created works of art into the actual fabric of the building. The wall paintings created by Sol LeWitt, Niele Toroni, Günther Förg and Günter Tuzina for the museum’s staircases are a case in point. They have become part of the very architecture of the museum. Elsewhere in the building, there are other murals by Sol LeWitt and Jan van der Ploeg – two artists who have followed in the footsteps of the forefather of formal abstractionism, Piet Mondrian.

Crowdfunding: Part of the cost of the Dance window is being met through crowdfunding, via the sale of a silk screen print by Bridget Riley. It is available to purchase for €2500.To mark the unveiling of the window, Bridget Riley, and the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag are offering copies of the signed print, entitled Sonnet, at a special bargain price. Sonnet is based on the design of Dance and the proceeds of the sale will go towards the cost of installing the window.


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