Born in Britain but raised in Mexico, John Golding attended the University of Toronto, and worked briefly as a stage designer, before moving to London in 1951 to study art history at The Courtauld Institute of Art. Golding's dissertation on Cubism, written under Anthony Blunt and Douglas Cooper, was published as a book in 1957. Subsequently, he worked and taught at the Courtauld and the Royal College of Art. A much loved and highly influential teacher, John married the roles of painter, academic art historian and curator.
In 1970, he and Christopher Green organised "Leger and Purist Paris" at the Tate Gallery. The following year, John joined the faculty of the Royal College of Art. He published the volume for the important Art in Context series on Marcel Duchamp's Bride Stripped Bare in 1973. He was appointed the Slade Professor of Fine Art, Cambridge University in 1978 and curated the landmark exhibition "Picasso: Painter/Sculptor" at the Tate in 1994.
As an artist, Golding had numerous one-man shows in prominent international galleries and museums, with his first solo show in London at Gallery One in 1962, and he also participated in many group exhibitions, including several international shows with his close friend, Op artist Bridget Riley. Golding was appointed a CBE in 1992 and elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1994. In 1997 his masterpiece on abstract art, Paths to the Absolute, was published, as a result of the A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts series that he gave at Princeton. Spanning abstraction across continents and decades, this overtly formalistic account of the prominence of abstraction in modern art remains a hugely influential account of artists' search for the 'absolute' through abstraction.
Golding exhibited extensively at home and abroad; his work is widely held in museum and gallery collections, for example: Tate, Scottish National Gallery, British Council, Ferens, Hunterian, Southampton, York, Fitzwilliam, Oxford, and MOMA. Golding died in April 2012.