Born in 1908 in Chelsam, Surrey, Pasmore was forced to take an administrative position at the London County Council at the age of nineteen, following the death of his father. However, he studied painting part-time at the Central School of Art, and was one of the founders of the Euston Road School. After early attempts at abstraction, Pasmore adopted a gentle figuration, his subjects often hazy and dreamlike, informed by Monet and Cézanne. Some of these works were displayed at the Zwemmer Gallery, in 1934.
During the Second World War, Pasmore was a conscientious objector, a stance that led to his court-martial and short imprisonment. In 1948, he returned to abstraction, strongly influenced by those associated with Circle. He was seen as a leading figure in the Constructivist revival in post-war Britain, with Herbert Read describing his style as “[t]he most revolutionary event in post-war British art”. As part of the Festival of Britain, Pasmore contributed a mural that promoted a number of the British Constructivists.
Pasmore taught at Camberwell School of Art from 1943-9, then became leader of the art course at Kings College, Durham, from 1954-61. He had a contentious period of work as Consulting Director of Architectural Design for Peterlee development corporation in 1955. He made several controversial architectural choices for the area, but staunchly defended his position both at the time and afterwards. In 1961, Pasmore represented Britain at the Venice Biennale, having participated at Documenta II in Kassel two years previously. He was a trustee of the Tate Gallery, to whose collection he donated a number of works. He was also vice president of the Turner Society, and called the artist the ‘first of the moderns’.