British sculptor and painter. He was born near Perth, Scotland, the grandson of Sir Alfred *Gilbert. He studied at the *Slade School of Art in 1929–32. In 1938–9 he was in Paris, where in 1939 he held his first solo exhibition. He spent the war in Ireland after being turned down for military service. There he painted pictures of insects inspired by both the paintings of André *Masson and his readings of the psychoanalyst Jung and the philosopher Nietzsche.
After the war he returned to Paris and in 1948 was invited to join the *Cobra group. Apart from William *Gear, he was the only British member. Among the Cobra artists, he became closest to *Constant and, like him, moved away from the wildness of the other members of the group towards a more structured approach and interest in the architectural context. This linked him with the British *Constructivist group, with whom he exhibited in 1954, although his projects for flats made of coloured metal and glass panels were not realized. The work for which he became best known are his shiny aluminium sculptures in curving planes around a central core. A good example is Structure 14c (1961, Tate). In these works he achieved a kind of balanced point between the exuberance of his Cobra work and the mental discipline of Constructivism. He was awarded first prize for sculpture at the Tokyo *Biennale in 1965. In the 1980s he returned to painting. Further Reading A. Grieve, obituary, The Guardian (14 February 2007)
Text Source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)