William Gear 1915-1997


Gear is one of the few British painters to have played a part in the international Modern Movement. Identified by a strong use of colour and a geometric underlying structure, Gear forged global artistic connections.


Born in Fife, Scotland, Gear remained attended Edinburgh College of Art 1932-1937, and Edinburgh University, 1936-1938 under William Gillies, John Maxwell and William Mc Taggart (with the occasional appearance of S J Peploe). He won a travelling scholarship to Paris in 1937 to study with Fernand Léger at the Academie Colarossi. Between 1937 and 1938 he travelled in Italy, Greece and the Balkans and during war service exhibited abroad.


World War II interrupted the development of his artistic career. He served in the Middle East and Italy from 1940 -1945, and with the Monuments and Fine Art Section in Germany, 1945 -1947. Evidence suggests he continued to paint and draw when he could. He returned to England post War after three years in Paris, and travelled to the United States in 1957 and 1959.


Gear became aware of developments in American Art after meeting Milton, Rosnick, Marcarelli and Rothko in Paris. In 1949 he exhibited with Jackson Pollack. From 1948 he exhibited at Gimpel Fils Gallery, London, his work continued to appear nationally and internationally, including the Venice Biennale in 1954. In 1951 he was awarded a Festival of Britain Purchase Prize and in 1975 the Lorne Fellowship.1


A member of the London Group, Curator of the Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne, 1958 – 1964 and Head of Fine Art at Birmingham Polytechnic 1964 - 1975. Between 1954 and 1985 a number of retrospective exhibitions were held.  He was elected a Royal Academician in 1995.