Study in Grey

© the artist's estate. Image credit: The Pier Arts Centre

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This monochromatic abstraction is an example of Gear's adoption of non-representation in the early 1950s. Irregular vertical bands of tone, ranging from black to white, dominate the composition. This arrangement is complicated at the left- and right-hand edges by curving or diagonal lines, which break the vertical rhythm of the piece and create formal tension within the composition.

Gear's close association with the CoBrA group in Europe and his awareness of American Abstract Expressionism positioned him as one of Britain's leading abstract painters during the 1950s. In 1951 he was awarded the Purchase Prize at the Festival of Britain exhibition '60 Paintings for '51', resulting in controversy over the jury's selection of a non-representational work.

The Pier Arts Centre



Study in Grey




oil on canvas


H 50 x W 61 cm

Accession number

PAC 73

Acquisition method

Scottish Arts Council Collection Bequest, 1997

Work type


Inscription description

1. 'Gear / "Study in Grey" / OCT. '53'. 2. Scottish Arts Council label. 3. Gimpel Fils Gallery, London label. 4. '[illegible script] / 15 [illegible script] / DES GRANDS AUGUSTINS PARIS'. 5. 'Gear '53'.


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The Pier Arts Centre

Victoria Street, Stromness, Orkney Islands KW16 3AA Scotland

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