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 attended Edinburgh College of Art 1932-1937, and Edinburgh University, 1936-1938 under William Gillies, John Maxwell and William McTaggart. 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. 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. From 1948 he showed at Gimpel Fils Gallery, London and in 1949 he exhibited with Jackson Pollock. His work continued to appear nationally and internationally, including the Venice Biennale in 1954.
He was a member of the London Group, Curator of the Towner Art Gallery, 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.
signed and dated 1947
Private Collection, 2012 - 2016
Paris, Galerie 1900-2000, William Gear, Cobra Abstractions 1946-1949, 29 February - 19 March 1988, cat 24
Composition 1947 was painted whilst William Gear was working in Paris and exhibiting with the influential Cobra movement. Typically structural in character and strong in colour, it references the artist’s experimentation with the freer, dramatic approach of lyrical abstraction and preceded the first of a series of exhibitions with Gimpel Fils Gallery in London.