Seurat to Riley - The Art of Perception

The Art of Perception

Critically acclaimed Op Art exhibition to open at the Holburne Museum, Bath

Seurat to Riley: The Art of Perception
The Holburne Museum, Bath
20 October 2017 – 21 January 2018

Seurat to Riley: The Art of Perception explores how artists have exploited the ways in which the human eye and mind perceive what we see. The exhibition, one of the first of its kind in the UK, will be presented as a carefully curated, in-focus survey at the Holburne Museum, Bath, 20 October 2017 – 21 January 2018, showcasing highlights of painting, ceramics and prints from a 150-year period.

Many artists from the Impressionists onwards were inspired by scientific colour theories, such as the pointillist work of Georges Seurat, where colours other than those painted on the canvas are generated in the eye of the viewer. During the 20th century this interest in perception extended to creating a sense of movement and a variety of artists from the Vorticists to Josef Albers looked at using form, and often colour, to convey the sensation of movement. This interest intensified in the 1950s and 1960s in what came to be known as ‘Op Art’ and ‘Kinetic Art’, exemplified by the work of artists such as Victor Vasarely, Bridget Riley, Jeffrey Steele and Peter Sedgley.

At the Holburne Museum, the exhibition will trace the history of Op Art from its beginnings in Pointillism and Vorticism, through the 1960s, with a focus on Riley’s iconic monochrome works and the similarly deceptive work in black and white of Steele, Vasarely and Michael Kidner, before looking at how Riley, along with Vasarely, Albers and Sedgley, introduced vivid colour effects. The exhibition will also demonstrate that this art has had a legacy right up to the present, not only in the further development of some of these artists but also in the work of other practitioners including Carlos Cruz-Diez, Jim Lambie, Lothar Goetz and the ceramicist Sara Moorhouse, and highlight how Op Art patterns have crossed-over into popular culture, from Vasarely’s album cover designs for David Bowie, to Riley’s poster design for the 2012 London Olympics.

Tom Boggis, Senior Curator of Fine Art at the Holburne Museum said: “We are delighted to be hosting highlights from Compton Verney’s critically acclaimed exhibition. The show is a fascinating combination of art and science and it is therefore great to be working with psychologists and mathematicians from the University of Bath to reveal how we really perceive the art that we see.”

A wide range of talks and events will accompany the exhibition. Highlights include a conversation with ceramicist Sara Moorhouse and Holburne Director, Chris Stephens; evening lectures with Bridget Riley expert Frances Follin and Michael Proulx, Reader in Psychology and Director of the Crossmodal Cognition Lab at the University of Bath, as well as adult workshops in poetry, silk-screen printing and paper cutting. Please see below for the full programme.


For more information please contact:
Katie Jenkins | E: | T: +44 (0) 1225 388547


Seurat to Riley: The Art of Perception
The Holburne Museum
20 October 2017 – 21 January 2018
£10 | £9 concession | £5 Art Fund | Free to all Museum Members and under 16s
Exhibition organised by Compton Verney
Principal Sponsor: The University of Bath
Paint Partner: Farrow & Ball

The Holburne Museum, Great Pulteney Street, Bath BA2 4DB
Open daily, free admission 10am – 5pm (11am – 5pm Sundays and Bank Holidays)
T: 01225 388569 | E: |