Bridget Riley: “We Cannot Quite See” A Lecture by
Dr. Richard Shiff – Thursday, December 5, 5:30 pm

Shiff Photo 09-23-12
Fall 2013

INSIGHTS: The UNM Art Museum Distinguished Lecture Series

Thursday, December 5, 5:30 pm

Bridget Riley: “We Cannot Quite See”

a lecture by

Dr. Richard Shiff, Professor, Effie Marie Cain Regents Chair in Art, and Director, Center for the study of Modernism, Department of Art and Art History, The University of Texas at Austin

Planned in conjunction with the exhibition of the UNM Art Museum’s Bridget Riley’s painting, Hidden Squares, 1961 on exhibition in the Main Gallery.

The lecture will take place in the Clinton Adams Gallery

During Bridget Riley’s formative years of the late 1950s and early 1960s, it was common for artists, critics, and historians to argue the merits of art that explored formal composition versus art that explored concepts and themes. Roughly put, the argument was between aesthetic form and social content. But Bridget Riley found this polar opposition irrelevant; she created art of a third term, still not fully defined. She is among the select number of radically innovative artists of the past century. To stand before Riley’s paintings is to experience one’s own perceptual failure. For decades, her art has succeeded in resisting pictorial order and composition as we know it. We can neither focus on nor analyze the details of her paintings without the “eye’s mind” (Riley’s phrase) being pulled one way or another, stretched and tested to its human limits.

Richard Shiff is Effie Marie Cain Regents Chair in Art at The University of Texas at Austin, where he directs the Center for the Study of Modernism. His scholarly interests range broadly across the field of modern and contemporary art and theory, with publications that include Cézanne and the End of Impressionism (1984), Critical Terms for Art History (co‑edited, 1996, 2003), Barnett Newman: A Catalogue Raisonné (co‑authored, 2004), Doubt (2008), and Between Sense and de Kooning (2011). Artists featured in Shiff’s recent essays have included Donald Judd, Cy Twombly, Per Kirkeby, Marlene Dumas, Richard Serra, Joel Shapiro, Mark Bradford, Peter Doig, Julie Mehretu, Ellen Gallagher, Ewan Gibbs, and Zeng Fanzhi.

Funding for this lecture series is generously provided in part by the Department of Art and Art History and by the Allene H. and Walter P. Kleweno Lecture Series Fund.