Gillian Ayres, Abstract Artist Besotted by Paint, Dies at 88

Like other abstract artists, she did not discuss the meanings, if any, in her works. She insisted that she only thought about the shapes, the space and the colors.

People like to understand and I wish they wouldnt, she told The Financial Times in 2015. I wish theyd just look. Its visual.

Gillian Ayres was born in London on Feb. 3, 1930. Her father was a part-owner of a hat factory whose customers included the British Army. Her mother, the former Florence Brown, was a homemaker. For a while, she attended school in an air-raid shelter in London.

When she was attending a girls school in 1943, books on van Gogh, Gauguin, Cezanne and Monet inspired her to paint. And at 16, she insisted on attending art school and was admitted to what is now called the Camberwell College of Arts in London.

Photo
Bybios, a 2017 work by Ms. Ayres.

Chafing at the rigidity of the teaching, she left shortly before taking the final exam. She got a job as a hotel chambermaid in Paris, then returned to London to work in an art gallery with Henry Mundy, a painter she met at Camberwell. They married in 1951 and divorced 25 years later.

By the mid-1950s, she was a rising abstract painter, splattering paint on a canvas on the floor like Jackson Pollock.

The whole idea of the canvas as an area in which to act, an area and what one does with it I wanted to find out about that, obsessively, she told The Telegraph in 2010.

Ms. Ayres came of age in Britain with abstract artists like Howard Hodgkin and Victor Pasmore. Roger....

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