Gillian Ayres (1930-2018), British, was born in London, studied in Camberwell School of Art from 1945 to 1950.


Gillian Ayres is one of the most significant British abstract painters. She is best known for her paintings and printmaking using vibrant colours. A disciple and vanguard of the Taschist style, a non-geometric abstract form that developed in postwar Europe, Ayres was inspired by abstract expressionist art in the United States and painted in a lyrical, gestural style that stood in contrast to the hard-edge forms of her contemporaries. Ayres’s career attests to her experimental spirit, as she switched from oil to acrylic paints for much of the 1960s and early 1970s — creating textured surfaces — only to later return to oil. In her later years, the artist has experimented with woodcuts, creating ebullient works evocative of Henri Matisse. Never didactic, her oeuvre illustrates an artist constantly experimenting with the possibilities of paint.


Gillian Ayres was the only woman in the most important postwar exhibition of British art, ‘Situation’ (Royal Society of Arts) in 1960. In the nearly 30 years since her graduation, Ayres has held several teaching positions. She was the first female Head of Painting at a British artschool in1978. Ayres was awarded an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in 1986. She was shortlisted for the prestigious Turner Prize in 1989, elected Royal Academician in 1991 and awarded an Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2011.