Born in Northamptonshire in 1917, Michael Kidner studied History at Cambridge University. A pioneer of Optical Art, or Op Art, Kidner devoted much of his career to developing work of a constructive nature. He was one of Op Art’s earliest and most consistent exponents, and it was in the overlapping fields of optical effect and systemic structure that he was to find the creative substance that sustained his whole career.
A Constructivist by inclination, Kidner’s interest in mathematics, science and the theories of chaos have informed an art that is at once rational, intuitive and playful. Throughout his life, he retained an interest in unpredictable world events that provoked unplanned elements within his work. Kidner’s translation of the dialogue between order and indeterminacy into a visual language has meant that his work – though founded in a rigorous intellectual approach to colour and form – also resonates emotionally: ‘Unless you read a painting as a feeling,’ he has said, ‘then you don’t get anything at all’.
His distinguished career has included influential teaching posts, international group shows and solo exhibitions in Britain, Europe and Brazil. His work was fist displayed in New York in 1965, in The Responsive Eye at the Museum of Modern art, a group exhibition which subsequently toured the United States; his first solo show in the United States was two years later at the Betty Parsons Gallery. A retrospective at the Serpentine Gallery, London in 1984 introduced a new generation of British artists to his work, and he was elected as a Royal Academician in 2004.
Kidner’s work has recently been acquired by the British Academy, UK, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Buenos Aires, Argentina. His work is also represented in the public collections of the Arts Council England, British Council, Government Art Collection and Tate, UK; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon; Museum Sztuki, Lódz, Poland.