Taken our quiz on artists who use dots in their work? Here are all the answers to check your knowledge against.

Sigmar Polke

Polke or Polka detail image 5

Dots were one of the many experimental techniques Sigmar Polke used throughout his career, particularly in his early works. Polke used this technique to evoke magazines and consumer packaging, saying in 1966:

“I like the technical character of the raster images, as well as their cliché quality. This quality makes me think of multiplication and reproduction, which is also related to imitation.”

Sigmar Polke Girlfriends (Freundinnen) 1965/66
Sigmar Polke (1941 - 2010)
Girlfriends (Freundinnen) 1965/66

Yayoi Kusama

Do you know your Polke from your Polka? Quiz

Yayoi Kusama is known for her fascination with dots, and her work dealing with obsessiveness and psychological trauma. Kusama’s installations immerse the viewer in endless dots and mirrored space, because for her:

“Our earth is only one polka dot among a million stars in the cosmos. Polka dots are a way to infinity. When we obliterate nature and our bodies with polka dots, we become part of the unity of our environment.”

Yayoi Kusama, I Pray with all of my Love for Tulips 2012
Yayoi Kusama I Pray with all of my Love for Tulips 2012

Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst spots - articles only

With over 1000 in existence, it’s no wonder that Damien Hirst’s spot paintings have become some of his most recognisable works. Of all the dots, Hirst’s best known are his ‘Pharmaceutical’ series, of which he explains:

“Mathematically, with the spot paintings, I probably discovered the most fundamentally important thing in any kind of art. Which is the harmony of where colour can exist on its own, interacting with other colours in a perfect format.”

Damien Hirst, 5-Fluorotryptamine 2007
Damien Hirst 5-Fluorotryptamine 2007 © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd.

Roy Lichtenstein

Polke or Polka detail image 7

Throughout the 1960s Roy Lichtenstein drew on commercial art sources for his work and famously employed the Benday pattern, the type of closely spaced dots used for shading in comics and advertising. In 1966 he wrote:

“I feel that in my work I wanted to look programmed or impersonal but I don’t really believe am being impersonal when I do it… But the impersonal look is what I wanted to have.”

Roy Lichtenstein, 'Whaam!' 1963
Roy Lichtenstein
Whaam! 1963
Acrylic and oil on canvas
© Estate of Roy Lichtenstein

Georges Seurat 

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The Impressionist artist Georges Seurat used Pointillism, a technique based on colour theory to create his paintings made up of hundreds of tiny dots of colour. When viewed at a distance, the theory is your eye blends the dots together into solid colour. As Seurat said in 1890:

“Art is harmony. Harmony is the analogy of contrasting and similar elements of tone, colour and line which, in accordance with their dominant and the influence of light, can produce cheerful, peaceful or sad compositions.”

Georges Seurat, The Seine and la Grande Jatte - Springtime 1888
Georges Seurat The Seine and la Grande Jatte - Springtime 1888

Bridget Riley

Polke or Polka detail image 6

From the 1960s on Bridget Riley began to explore the dynamic potentialities of optics. Her Op art pieces create a disorienting effect on the human eye. Of the colour grey in Hesitate, Riley said:

“It is mid-way between black and white and clearly this relationship is encompassed in the three stages: white, mid-grey, black. But you can have it in five beats, seven beats, twenty-four and so on, an all the time you are in fact changing the tempo. I became very interested in this question of visual time.”

Bridget Riley, 'Hesitate' 1964
Bridget Riley
Hesitate 1964
Oil on canvas
support: 1067 x 1124 mm
frame: 1155 x 1100 x 54 mm
Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1985© 2006 Bridget Riley. All rights reserved.

 John Baldessari 

Polke or Polka detail image 2

John Baldessari is most famous for declaring in 1971 that ‘I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art’. As part of this, in 1985 he began to take black and white news photographs and cover the people’s faces with coloured dots. He said:

“If you can’t see their face, you’re going to look at how they’re dressed, maybe their stance, their surroundings… You really do see that handshake. You know, it’s not about those guys, it’s about that handshake. It’s about cutting that ribbon.”

John Baldessari, Cutting Ribbon, Man In Wheelchair 1988
John Baldessari Cutting Ribbon, Man In Wheelchair 1988 © John Baldessari

Chris Ofili 

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Chris Ofili is best known for his use of elephant dung, but his paintings combine a variety of techniques, including collage, glitter, resin, and, you guessed it, dots. His decorative dots are inspired by Zimbabwean cave paintings which, along with the dung, are a way of literally incorporating Africa into his work:

“Somehow it makes the painting feel more relaxed, instead of being pinned upon the wall like it’s being crucified.”

Chris Ofili, 'No Woman, No Cry' 1998
Chris Ofili
No Woman, No Cry 1998
Acrylic, oil, polyester resin, paper collage, glitter, map pins and elephant dung on canvas
support: 2438 x 1828 x 51 mm
Purchased 1999© Courtesy Chris Ofili - Afroco and Victoria Miro Gallery

Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963–2010 is on display at Tate Modern until 8 February 2015