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Masterworks by British contemporary art giants Francis Bacon and David Hockney will go under the hammer today in a £66 million bonanza.

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Abused, ridiculed, at best tolerated

Men and women see the world in essentially different ways, it is said, and this, for better or worse, is reflected in their art. Consequently, as the comments below - variously patronising, stereotyping, occasionally enlightened - reveal, it is only surprisingly recently that women artists have been taken with anything approaching seriousness.

Meanwhile in Minneapolis

"All aboard, room for one more upstairs..." Three British bobbies were lined up like a Gilbert and Sullivan chorus, the incongruity of their bus conductors' cries compounded by their accents, an unholy melange of cockney and Minnesotan. Actors playing PCPlod were the least of this event, the opening of "Brilliant! New Art from London", the most hyped show in America, let alone Minneapolis. Here was the first major retrospective of young British art, but in a city few Londoners could locate, in the heart of America's conservative farmland. This incongruity was evident at the opening Punk & Circumstance party with Mid-western versions of everything from guardsmen to a "Jungle" rave, even a British makeover room where locals were transformed "from Mod to Punk and back again". There were scandalous souvenir photos, "Your mug in the tabloids", darts " in the British pub tradition" and a Brit lookalike competition resulting in many bowlers and brollies, yet won by a soccer hooligan with a Union Jack head. This wackiness and the booming backbeat of Cockney Rebel made the work itself seem tame, whether Damien Hirst's dots or Rachel Whiteread's mattress, lost in the excesses of jokey nationalism.

Fate, hopelessness, little clarity

EXHIBITIONS: Where does British painting go from here? Two new shows offer a glimpse of the future, but it's a depressing sight

FASHION : A little bit of what you fancy

Sleek and tattered, hot and cool, London Fashion Week was short on consistency but dizzy with verve and variety. Marion Hume and Tamsin Blanchard report from a busy runway

UNDERRATED The case for Magic Eye books : One in the eye for connoisseurs

What art books have sold three-quarters of a million copies in Britain alone, and have devoted fans all over the world? No art critic is likely to give you the correct answer, which is: the Magic Eye books published by Michael Joseph. Ignored by t he artestablishment, adored by a huge following, Magic Eye is a genuinely popular form, the folk-art of our time. And it's international; the images are spread out in virtually every city of the world.

ART / Self-Portrait: Bridget Riley talks about Fall, one of six early works on show at the Tate, London

SEURAT, Paul Klee and the Futurists were my roots. Particularly Klee. In the 1960s I had the opportunity to explore what those forms and lines and colours could do when they no longer had to describe anything. I wanted to discover their own character.

EXHIBITIONS / A brush with the unexpected: A rare, new survey of more than 50 British abstract painters at Flowers East shows us what we're missing

I FEEL warmly towards the big show at Flowers East, 'British Abstract Art Part One: Painting' (there will be a parallel sculpture occasion next year). And I gather that the contributing artists have also been happy with the project. Sixty painters were invited; only four declined, and practically everyone in the exhibition has sent work of merit: not a token of what they do, but something new and heartfelt.

Pembroke: Artist tears a strip off advertising agency

There must be red faces down at Ogilvy & Mather, the Docklands-based advertising agency that is part of Martin Sorrell's WPP group. A poster campaign to promote Sun-Pat Stripey peanut butter has backfired badly, forcing the agency to make grovelling apologies in prominent adverts in newspapers and magazines.

A repulsive gewgaw (not)

ALSO at the Hayward, as the natural accompaniment to Bridget Riley, is The Art of Ancient Mexico (above: Atlantean Figure, Toltec, AD 850-1250, designed to support a ledge). It provokes nostalgia for a time of lost innocence. A time, I mean, when a European could look at the sculpture of the Aztecs and the Mayas and say with both a good conscience and, more important, real conviction: 'Ugh, the repulsive gewgaws of barbarism]' But that time is long gone. What was once considered primitive art has now been thoroughly absorbed into the mainstream of our culture. We like it. I mean I like it too. But I'm just saying . . . TL

ART / Diamonds are a girl's best friend: Post-Op, Bridget Riley has taken to making lattices of jolly colour. Tom Lubbock tries to make sense of them

LIKE Juan Gris (previous page), Bridget Riley is another artist who has acquired a scientific reputation, but this, she always believed, was a terrible mistake. It was a mistake that was perhaps easy to make in the early Sixties. The pulsating swimming surfaces of her famous black-and-white paintings were assumed to declare a technical interest in optics. And a school of painting, Op Art, was then christened, making a happy rhyme with Pop. As abstract paintings, they had a kind of Poppish appeal: you could immediately get something out of them. This is still what most people associate with her name. I don't myself have a very clear idea of her work through the late Sixties and the Seventies. But the Hayward Gallery provides a more recent update with a selection of paintings from the last decade.

Letter: To be an artist

Sir: In her interview with Andrew Graham-Dixon (8 September), Bridget Riley complains that her work has been consistently misunderstood. Is this not a failure of communication on her part?

ART / Earning her stripes: Like many abstract artists, Bridget Riley believes that her work has been misinterpreted. She talks to Andrew Graham-Dixon

Bridget Riley does not see things in black and white. 'All artists are mixtures,' she says. 'They are complicated. I don't think they are one simple thing.' The remark may conceal a certain irritation since Riley, who was 60 last year, has had to work unusually long and hard to convince people of her own complexity. She is one of those artists for whom early fame may, in retrospect, prove to have been as much a handicap as an advantage. Next week sees the opening, at the Hayward Gallery, of an exhibition devoted to Riley's paintings of the last decade. But she still remains, in many people's minds, inextricably identified with the era in which she first came to prominence - someone who, along with the likes of Mary Quant and Twiggy, helped to create one of the distinctive 'looks' of the Sixties. Riley has been remembered as a pioneer of Op Art, the creator of canvases whose weird effects - dancing dots or pulsing curves, black on white grounds, designed to induce dizziness - seemed to sum up the spirit of the times. Her disorientating paintings seemed like the visual accessories of LSD culture: psychedelia, so to speak, without the colour.
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