New, mind-bending exhibition features Op and Kinetic art

A new exhibition opening Feb. 20, “Moving Vision: Op and Kinetic Art from the Sixties and Seventies,” features movement – both real and perceived.


“Moving Vision,” organized by OKCMOA, highlights one of the great strengths of the Museum’s permanent collection – extensive, highly regarded holdings in Op (optical) and Kinetic (movement) art. The Museum will produce an original, illustrated catalogue for the exhibition, contributing significantly to the scholarship surrounding these deeply innovative artistic movements.


Beginning around the middle of the 20th century, two separate, yet complementary, art movements brought something innovative, delightful and fun to artistic practices in two- and three-dimensional forms. In the case of Op art, artists created the perception of movement and illusion of depth making use of two-dimensional surfaces; while with Kinetic art, artists experimented with moving three-dimensional forms. This exhibition brings together these two movements to tell the story of artists’ explorations of motion in the 1960s and ’70s.


“This groundbreaking exhibition combines art and science in a fascinating and exciting way,” said exhibition curator Roja Najafi. Ph.D. “Both Op and Kinetic art placed the viewer’s perception at the center of the work. Op art used geometric patterns, contrasting colors and light and shadow to create optical effects that confuse and excite the eye. Kinetic art relied upon the actual motion produced by electric motors, gravity, air currents or human manipulation to make sculptures move. ‘Moving Vision’ aims to bring the element of surprise and delight back into the galleries. The works change as viewers approach and move, so each visitor will have a completely unique visual experience.”


Optical illusion was nothing new for artists; linear and atmospheric perspectives were used during the Renaissance, and the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists experimented with illusion in the late 19th century. But, Op art emerged at a time when abstraction was synonymous with serious art and offered a playful and accessible alternative art form.


With new materials such as acrylic, Plexiglas and aluminum, Kinetic artists broke from traditional marble or bronze sculpture. Suspending and automating their objects, sculptures were no longer fixed in space but could move and respond to the environment they shared with the viewer.


“Unique to this exhibition will be programming featuring not just artists and history scholars but also physicians and scientists,” said Bryon Chambers, OKCMOA head of programming and partnerships. “We are thrilled to welcome ophthalmologist Dr. Maria Lim for a virtual presentation, ‘The Science of Seeing.’ Attendees can explore the physiology of the eye, learn how we see and study visual processing in the brain while considering the art on view.” 


Chambers added, “Our programming continues to be virtual to allow us to reach as many people as possible in a safe and engaging way.”


“Moving Vision” will bring together over 40 works centered around the Museum’s own masterpieces of Op and Kinetic Art, alongside a series of historically significant loans from major private collections. The exhibition surveys more than two decades of Op and Kinetic art, featuring the founder of Kinetic art, Alexander Calder; influential Op artist Victor Vasarely; and other internationally celebrated artists such as Bridget Riley, Fletcher Benton and many more who deserve greater recognition.


“Moving Vision” will be on view through May 16. The Museum is currently operating with timed ticketing and limited capacity. Beginning Feb. 20, the Museum will be open Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Entrance to the Museum’s galleries is $12 for adults with discounts for military members, seniors and students. Kids 17 and under and Museum members are always free. 


Programming and Events 

Program cost and registration information can be found at 


“Moving Vision” Members’ Day

Friday, Feb. 18, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Virtual Lecture: “New Sensation: The Story of Op Art” 

Wednesday, March 3, 6 p.m. 

Joe Houston, artist, curator and contributing author for the exhibition catalogue 


Virtual Lecture: “Optical Conscious: The Art of Bridget Riley” 

Saturday, April 10, 2 p.m. 

Frances Follin, Ph.D., art historian and contributing author for the exhibition catalogue 


Virtual Program: “The Science of Seeing” 

Wednesday, March 31, 7 p.m. 

Maria Lim, M.D., ophthalmologist, with Bryon Chambers, manager of public programming  


Virtual Tours 

Wednesday, March 17, 6 p.m. 

Wednesday, April 21, 6 p.m.