First Advisor

Alison Heryer

Date of Award

Spring 6-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Art History and University Honors


Art + Design




Bridget Riley, The Responsive Eye, Op Art, Perceptual Abstraction, UK Mod Fashion, Appropriation




The English painter Bridget Riley (1931-) is widely regarded as one of Britain's most successful international contemporary artists. The progression of her career to reach such acclaim, however, has been marked by consistent misperceptions, the greatest of which arose during the beginning of her ascent when she was pointedly positioned as a leading figure of both Optical Art and United Kingdom Mod fashion. The critical reception of Bridget Riley's early work (1961-67) and its appropriation by Mod fashion retailers provide interesting case studies of (1) the commercialization of art before the establishment of US copyright law and (2) the conversations surrounding institutional and gendered biases experienced by women artists prior to their mainstream problematization by the Feminist Art movement in the 1970s. Although discourse exploring Riley's inadvertent body in Op and her experience as a woman artist during the 1960s exists, critical scholarship on the intersecting impact fashion played in her reception and subsequent misconceptions is lacking. This thesis centers on the exploitation of Riley’s art in fashion as the setting in which her critical reception and artistic dismissal can be understood.


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