Alex Muir (1924 - 1991)

Alex Muir (1924 - 1991)

Alexander Muir was an artist who was a perfectionist in the adventures of geometry and colour.  He sought a dynamic type of symmetry through the proportions, patterns and interplay of all aspects of his designing.


His career was unlike that of most artists.  After war service with the RAAF he enrolled at East Sydney Technical College as a student with the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Training Scheme.  Later he entered the 1950 (in which he came third) as well as the 1951 Travelling Art Scholarship Competitions.


Alex studied with an earnest and diligent approach, searching for the solid visual reality of each object.  In this sense he was a loner amongst a class that was pursuing impressionism whilst he himself was exploring avenues free from anything common place.  This led him to an interest in colour theory and abstract composition resulting in many experiments to achieve the effects he wanted.


While travelling for two years in Europe he was influenced by such artists as Mondrian, Delaunay and Klee and later on by Herbin and Albers.  However over time Alex’s work developed more into a geometric synthesis of his own and departed from the general definition of ‘abstract’:  Muir’s work definitely did not begin with a sense of images.  Rather they evolved from the centre of each one’s specific palette spectrum.  Organic images in his compositions are part of an additive process more than a subtractive one.


Alex became more and more of a recluse.  Nevertheless he was coaxed out of his retreat in Penshurst to exhibit publically at Villiers Gallery Paddington in 1973 and at the Holdsworth Gallery in 1975.


After the 1975 exhibition he withdrew from the Art world effectively ignoring it and found great satisfaction in working with pastels.  He enjoyed the extra chromatic richness of this virtually pure pigment.  The practice of separating his colour out from the paper’s mid tone gave him a more immediate challenge in the process of his designing.  Any one of these Alex Muir works can become a real jewel in a discerning art collection. 


Artarmon Galleries has had solo shows of Alex Muir works in 1992 and 1998 and in 1999 Dr William Muir (Alex’s brother) gifted 20 pastels to the Royal North Shore Hospital for the public to enjoy.  The National Gallery in Canberra has several Alex Muir works in their Collection.


This biographical sketch on Alex Muir was compiled from notes written by Cameron Sparks (1930-2016) and Tom Thompson for the 1992 exhibition at Artarmon Galleries.

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