Tadema Gallery

Victor Pasmore

(British, 1908–1998)

relief construction in white, black and indian red by victor pasmore

Victor Pasmore

Relief Construction in White, Black and Indian Red, 1960–1961




Born in Chelsham, Surrey
1923 - 1927
Educated at Harrow. Studied painting there along traditional lines and develops first beginnings of a sophisticated interest in painting. Oriented mainly towards landscape painting, under the influence of the English and French impressionists.
1927 - 1932
Moved to London (1927) and employed in Local Government service at the Head Office of the London County Council , where he remained for the next ten years. Attended evening classes at the Central School of Art until 1930 and practises as a weekend painter exhibiting at the London art societies. Became involved with the London avant-garde through whom he was introduced to the revolutionary work of the School of Paris. Attracted at first to modern 'primitivism' - Rousseau, Utrillo, Modigliani, and Christopher Wood in England; but turned later to Matisse and Picasso
1932 - 1936
In 1932 elected to the London Artists' Association, an offshoot of the Bloomsbury Group led by Duncan Grant - the first event which established his status as a fully involved artist. Held his first one-man exhibition at the Association's own gallery in Bond Street (1932) with works under fauvist influence. In 1934 elected a member of the London Group, at that time the principal exhibiting society of the British avant-garde. In 1934 became associated with the 'Objective Abstractions', a purely abstract movement with an informal tachist style, and saw the first formal abstract paintings of Ben Nicholson at the Seven and Five Society. After tentative and unsuccessful experiments under both influences (since destroyed), returned to painting from the visual model and turned to the influence of Sickert and Bonnard.
1936 - 1940
In 1936 made a complete return to traditional naturalism and realism and painted the Parisian Cafe. In 1937 joined with Claude Rogers and William Coldstream (also involved in a similar process) in setting up a school of painting in the Euston Road for the purpose of retrieving a firm objective standpoint in the visual object. In 1938 left Government service and, with the assistance of Kenneth Clark, newly established as Director of the National Gallery and a patron of contemporary art, became a full-time painter teaching at the Euston Road School.
1940 - 1942
Married and moved to Ebury Street. Second exhibition at the Wildenstein Gallery. Declaration of war, the Euston Road School disbanded; registered as a conscientious objector.
1942 - 1947
Moved first to Chiswick, and then to Hammersmith by the Thames where he painted his riverside pictures. In 1943 appointed visiting teacher at the Camberwell School of Art where he restored the ideas of the Euston Road School. But these ideas became increasingly modified as he moved to the influence of French Post-Impressionism. Joined the Redfern Gallery and held his third one-man exhibition.
1947 - 1951
Moved to Blackheath (1947). After intensive study of Post-Impressionist theories his landscape painting became increasingly tentative and ambiguous until finally it reached an impasse. Problem of the next step. Saw the Picasso exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum (1946) which revealed the crisis in modern painting and confirmed his own problems. But rejected a return to Fauvism or Cubism. Instead turned to Paul Klee, Mondrian and Ben Nicholson with the idea of starting again intrinsically and organically in completely independent terms. Exhibited his first paintings in this form at the London Group, 1948 and also, in the same year, at his second exhibition at the Redfern Gallery, thus opening a new era in British painting: 'The most revolutionary event in post-war British Art' Herbert Read. In 1949 left Camberwell School to join William Johnstone, the new Principal of the Central School of Art, who had introduced into the departments of industrial design a foundation course on the lines of that at the Bauhaus. Since moving to the abstract, Pasmore had been looking for new objective foundations from which he could develop his work. Appointed to take part in this course, he found an extension and reinforcement of his own research in this respect. In 1950 painted the large spiral ceramic mural for the Festival of Britain. In the process he met architects for the first time, and became involved in the constructive aesthetics of modern architecture. In 1951, as a result partly of this influence, partly of an acquaintance with the reliefs of Ben Nicholson, and partly of a correspondence with the American constructivist Charles Biederman, he began to develop from flat painting to relief. In 1951 joined with Kenneth Martin and Robert Adams in forming a group which organised the first post-war exhibitions of purely abstract paintings and sculpture in England.
1954 - 1961
In 1954 left the Central School to become Director of Painting in the Department of Fine Art, University of Newcastle. There he set up an experimental department of basic abstract studies which he called 'The Developing Process'. Also directed summer schools at Scarborough in Yorkshire along the same lines. In 1954 appointed Consulting Director of Urban Design for the South West Area, Peterlee New Town in County Durham. Although only part-time, his work was fully executive and, in conjunction with the Corporation's architects, he designed the lay-out and architecture of the south west area of the town. Left the Corporation in 1977 after the completion of the South West Area. Continued to concentrate on the relief, which he developed into projective constructions in conjunction with his architectural work at Peterlee. 1960 Retrospective exhibitions at the British Pavilion, XXX Venice Biennial; Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Louisiana Museum, Copenhagen; Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels; Stadtische Kunst Galerie, Bochum; Kunsterners Hus, Oslo; Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hanover; Kunsthalle, Bern, and the Marlborough Gallery, London
1961 - 1964
In 1961 left the University of Newcastle to join the Marlborough Gallery in London. Returned to Blackheath and became totally involved in painting and relief, but continued his work at Peterlee.


Marlborough Gallery, London and Zurich
Retrospective exhibition at Tate Gallery, London and Sao Paulo Bienal, Brazil
1964, 1966, 1969
Marlborough Fine Art, London
Galleria Lorenzeli, Milan
Galerie Charles Lienhard, Zurich
British Pavillion XXX Venice Biennial
Arts Council Retrospective, Cambridge
London Group
Redfern Gallery, London
Objective Abstractions Group, Zwemmer Gallery, London


Burning Waters (Second Version), Enitharmon Press, London
Victor Pasmore: Paintings and Graphics 1980-1992, Norbert Lynton, Lund Humphries, London
Catalogue Raisonne by Alan Bowness and Luigi Lambertini, Thames and Hudson
Retrospective Exhibition, Tate Gallery, London
Victor Pasmore, Art In Progress Series, Methuen
Victor Pasmore, Penguin Modern Painters Series, Clive Bell