Victor Pasmore

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'Apollo Pavilion', Peterlee by Pasmore

Edwin John Victor Pasmore (3 December 1908 – 23 January 1998) was a British artist and architect. He pioneered the development of abstract art in Britain in the 1940s and 1950s.

Biography[edit]

Pasmore was born in Chelsham, Surrey on 3 December 1908.[1] He studied at Summer Fields School in Oxford[2] and Harrow in west London, but with the death of his father in 1927 he was forced to take an administrative job at the London County Council. He studied painting part-time at the Central School of Art and was associated with the formation of the Euston Road School and the first post-war exhibition of abstract art. After experimenting with abstraction, Pasmore worked for a time in a lyrical figurative style, painting views of the River Thames from Hammersmith much in the style of Turner and Whistler.

Abstract by Pasmore

In the Second World War, Pasmore was a conscientious objector.[3] Having been refused recognition by his Local Tribunal, he was called up for military service in 1942. He refused orders and was court martialled and sentenced to 123 days imprisonment. The sentence qualified him to go to the Appellate Tribunal in Edinburgh, which allowed him unconditional exemption from military service.

Pasmore was a leading figure in the promotion of abstract art and reform of the fine art education system. From 1943–1949, he taught at Camberwell School of Art where one of his students was Terry Frost whom he advised not to bother with the School's formal teaching and to instead study the works in the National Gallery.

Beginning in 1947, he developed a purely abstract style under the influence of Ben Nicholson and other artists associated with Circle, becoming a pioneering figure of the revival of interest in Constructivism in Britain following the War. Pasmore's abstract work, often in collage and construction of reliefs, pioneered the use of new materials and was sometimes on a large architectural scale. Herbert Read described Pasmore's new style as "The most revolutionary event in post-war British art".[4]

In 1950, he was commissioned to design an abstract mural for a bus depot in Kingston upon Thames and the following year Pasmore contributed a mural to the Festival of Britain that promoted a number of the British Constructivists. From 1952, he was leader of the art course of Kings College, Durham based in Newcastle upon Tyne. There he developed a general art and design course inspired by the 'basic course' of the Bauhaus that became the model for higher arts education across the UK.

Pasmore was a supporter of fellow artist Richard Hamilton, giving him a teaching job in Newcastle and contributing a constructivist structure to the exhibition "This Is Tomorrow" in collaboration with Ernő Goldfinger and Helen Phillips. Pasmore was commissioned to make a mural for the new Newcastle Civic Centre. His interest in the synthesis of art and architecture was given free hand when he was appointed Consulting Director of Architectural Design for Peterlee development corporation in 1955. Pasmore's choices in this area proved controversial; the centerpiece of the town design became an abstract public art structure of his design, the Apollo Pavilion. The structure became the focus for local criticism over the failures of the Development Corporation but Pasmore remained a defender of his work, returning to the town to face critics of the Pavilion at a public meeting in 1982.

Pasmore represented Britain at the 1961 Venice Biennale, was participating artist at the Documenta II 1959 in Kassel and was a trustee of the Tate Gallery, donating a number of works to the collection. He gave a lecture on J.M.W. Turner as 'first of the moderns' to the Turner Society, of which he was elected a vice president in 1975.

He died in Gudja, Malta in 1998, aged 89.

Personal life[edit]

In 1940, he married the artist Wendy Blood.[5] They had two children, a son and a daughter.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Independent: Obituary: Victor Pasmore - Obituaries - News - The Independent, accessdate: 22/08/2014
  2. ^ Summer Fields Register 1864–1960, Oxonian Press, 1960.
  3. ^ Central Board for Conscientious Objectors, Bulletin, October 1942, November 1942.
  4. ^ Ford, B (1988) The Cambridge Guide to the Arts in Britain: Since the Second World War Cambridge University Press: Cambridge. p104
  5. ^ Tate: Wendy Pasmore | Tate, accessdate: 22/08/2014
  6. ^ bookroomartpress.co.uk: Pasmore, Victor Biography, accessdate: 22/08/2014

Sources[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Grieve, Alastair, Constructed Abstract Art in England: A Forgotten Avann Garde, Yale University Press, 2005.
  • Grieve, Alastair (editor), Victor Pasmore, Tate Publishing, 2010.
  • Bowness, Alan and Lambertini, Luigi, Victor Pasmore, with a catalogue raisonne, Thames & Hudson, 1980.