PRINT November 2002


Bridget Riley

Steven Henry Madoff recounts the serendipitous meeting that led to Bridget Riley’s first solo show, at London’s Gallery One, in 1962.

IT’S THE MEREST COMMONPLACE to say that rain is a nourishing force, and when we do we’re usually speaking of the fruits of the earth, not the fruits of art—except, perhaps, in the case of Bridget Riley, which takes us back to a late autumn afternoon in London, 1961. She was still unknown.

Riley was thirty, laboring as a draftsman in the offices of the advertising powerhouse J. Walter Thompson. As she made her way from work that day through the narrow streets of Soho, passing Grosvenor Square with its polite sward of green, the sky opened in a torrent. She rushed into the sheltering doorway at 16 North Audley Street and turned out of curiosity to look inside. The man who peered back came over. “Why don’t you come in and look properly?” he said. His name

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