Preparation 2

Following on from the comparison of states in Stella’s prints, I want to pause over Bridget Riley’s thought process in the states of this painting. One early version looks like


two interesting shapes made of orange, tan, white and green over a blue ground. In another five panels move forward and back, and knife shapes cut in front and under.


These are both good designs, in my opinion. The final version achieves a kind of condensation of possibilities, which feels like it has something to do with holding the space back, and not letting background and foreground separate. That particular ambition seems a bit conservatively modernist to me, or conventionally modernist.

Bridget Riley, Arcadia 1 2007

Bridget Riley, Arcadia 1 2007

I think the finished work is beautiful, but can’t see that it is so much “better” than the other states. All three are built on the same set of diagonals, verticals and curves, but with different overlaps brought out. Stella would probably make all three, and that seems like a good idea.

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