Late Morning (1967–68) is Riley’s first abstract painting that does not utilize black. Simple vertical stripes allowed her to focus her attention—and the spectator’s—on the effects of subtle chromatic shifts. Along the length of this sheet, vertical red bands alternate with stripes that transition from blue to green, with notes identifying their hues and intervals. This body of work enabled Riley to explore how the interaction among elements, including the spaces between them, produces an overriding optical sensation.

Bridget Riley (b. 1931)
Study for “Late Morning”
Graphite and gouache on graph paper
Collection of the artist
© Bridget Riley 2023. All rights reserved.


Rachel Federman: In this recent interview, Riley recalls her shift in the mid-1960s from black-and-white to color:

Bridget Riley: Well, I was heading towards it, uh, because I had reached a certain understanding of color and certain ability to, to deal with it in, um, through my copies of, my copy of Seurat, and I, I'd come to understand something very important about color through that, uh, the induction of color, that is, color can induce, uh, something it's not. So it's an immense, unstable, essentially unstable, um, but, because of that, a huge, exciting field... to work with.