Catalogue entry

Bridget Riley born 1931

T04132 Hesitate 1964

Emulsion on board 1067 x 1124 (43 3/8 x 45 1/2)
Inscribed ‘Riley '64' on lower left edge, and ‘ TOP | BRIDGET RILEY | 1964 | EMULSION ON BOARD | 44 1/4 x 42 inches | HESITATE' on back at centre
Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1985
Prov: Purchased from Richard Feigen Gallery, New York, by Larry Aldrich 1964; sold Sotheby's New York, 15 May 1980 (570, repr.) $11,000 bt Juda Rowan Gallery; bt private collector 1980 sold to Juda Rowan Gallery 1985; purchased by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1985
Exh: ? Bridget Riley, Richard Feigen Gallery, New York, 1964 (no cat.); Old Hundred, Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, USA, Nov. 1964-April 1965 (55); Selections from the Museum Collection, Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, USA, Jan.-April 1966 (no cat.); Art of the Sixties, Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, USA, March-June 1969 (no cat.); Exhibitions Fall 1972, Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, USA, Sept.-Dec. 1972 (69, repr.); The Sixties Collection Revisited, Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, USA, Sept.-Dec. 1978 (no number); Forty Years of Modern Art 1945-1988, Tate Gallery, Feb.-April 1986 (no number, repr. in col.)
Lit: Friends of the Tate Gallery, Report 1985-6, 1986, p.12 repr. Also repr. Arts Review, 38, 28 Feb. 1986 (cover)

A group of black and white paintings by Bridget Riley of 1964 have titles with an implication of some emotional tension, for example ‘Disturbance', ‘Chill', ‘Loss', ‘Where' and ‘Pause', which are distinct from her previous titles which referred to movement in a more neutral way. ‘Pause' 1964 (115.5 x 115.5, 45 1/4 x 45 1/4, private collection, repr. Bridget Riley Works 1959-78, BC, exh. cat., 1978, p.47) is similar in design to ‘Hesitate', but with the ellipses forming a vertical line and the changes of tone reversed. ‘Pause' itself develops an idea in an earlier painting ‘Movement in Squares' 1961 (Arts Council Collection, repr. Arts Council Collection, 1979, p.211) but with the rectangles replaced by ellipses and circles, and with the addition of the changes of tone.

The 1964 paintings were studied in a group of small gouaches, from which some were selected to be enlarged. For each painting the artist made a full size cartoon in gouache on paper, although in some cases these were not completed throughout. The paintings were made with emulsion on a hardboard panel that had been cut and assembled commercially, and were drawn first using a compass, and with templates for the larger ellipses (the smaller ones were drawn freehand). The shades of grey were judged by eye.

‘Where' 1964 (107 x 113, 39 1/8 x 44 1/2, private collection, New York) and ‘Loss' 1964 (117 x 117, 46 x 46, private collection, repr. Bridget Riley, exh. cat., Kunstverein, Hannover 1970, as respectively ‘Wo' and ‘Verlust' both p.51) are similar paintings using discs, but with the fold at the centre. One of the prints in the first portfolio Riley made, which were screen-printed onto plexiglass, uses a similar design (‘Fragment', 7/5, 1965. A proof is in the Tate Gallery, P07108).

The artist is concerned that the painting should be seen as a whole, as a ‘field', and the individual parts not noticed. She described ‘Pause' (conversation of 11 April 1986), with its vertical fold, as associated with the human figure, and ‘Hesitate' in contrast as like a landscape. The overall size of each painting is crucial to the placing of the fold and to the visual effect, which depends on an awareness of the contrast between different parts at the same time.

This entry has been approved by the artist.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84, Tate Gallery, London 1988, pp.257-8