Georges Seurat


In the late 1950s, Riley found guidance in the Post-Impressionist art of Georges Seurat (1859–1891). She later wrote, “After having been taught drawing extensively, I felt at a loss in approaching color. From his work I learned something about the interrelationship of color and tone as well as the advantages and limits of a strictly methodical approach.”

Blue Landscape is the first of several paintings she made using Seurat’s pointillist technique, in which individual dots of color are juxtaposed to form an image. Although Riley ultimately distanced herself from the scientific rigor of Seurat’s method in favor of a more intuitive approach, his work is central to her understanding of painting as a vehicle of pure sensation rooted in the experience of close observation.

Bridget Riley (b. 1931)
Blue Landscape
Oil on canvas
Collection of the artist
© Bridget Riley 2023. All rights reserved.


Rachel Federman: In this conversation from 2019, Riley talks about her discovery of the Post-Impressionist artist Georges Seurat, whose pointillist paintings laid the foundation for her use of color.

Bridget Riley: I was struggling with, um, this unwieldy thing called color . And, um, I was applying it in little dabs, and these little dabs were not organized in any way. They had no internal logic, they had no raison d'être. And the National Gallery had, for years, um, Seurat's great painting The Bathers, which you could see as you came up the stairs on the right hand side through the window. And the light and, and the beauty of the color, was, uh, was something I couldn't pass by.