Moving But Static

July 14, 2017

     How has an artwork made a VIEWER think about movement? For example, a piece that expects you to move in a certain way or engage it in a particular manner. 

 

     When this question was presented, I thought about it for about a minute, maybe less. I thought of Bridget Riley’s Op Art work from the very early 1960’s. This is while she was still producing her own work and not relying on assistants to complete them from her sketches and studies.

     Ms. Riley’s Movement in Squares, 1961 immediately came to mind. This piece is in my opinion, the ultimate in Trompe l’oeil. Not only does it fool the eye, it pulls on the optic mussels as it seems to move. Looking at it, one gets the feeling that they are being drawn into the painting.

     The work is tempera on hardboard painted black and white. It appears to be an oversized checkerboard that has been curved in and perhaps folded then curved back out on the other side. However, there are no curves in the painted image. It is flat on both ends. It gives a feeling of depth on a flat surface. It consists of ten rows of black and white squares, the first three columns and the last consist of ten squares each. The rows remain the same height across the work but width varies by getting sequentially narrower for thirteen vertical divisions giving the illusion of curving inward. Then the sequence is reversed and they become wider for thirteen strips. The optical illusion appears to the right of center in the painting.

     The feeling of movement is so strong that a person may become nauseous just looking at it. The sensation makes a person want to examine it closely and perhaps touch it to make sure it is in fact flat.

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KENNETH CRAIG PRUITT