William Crozier was born to Irish parents in Glasgow and trained at the Glasgow School of Art between 1949 and 1953, where his tutors included Mary and William Armour. He had his first public exhibition in 1951, at the Carnegie Institute in Ayre. After his studies, he spent some time in Paris and Ireland before settling in London where he gained both success and notoriety in the 1950s through his exhibitions of assemblages of found objects and paintings at the ICA, the Arthur Tooth Gallery and Drain Gallery.
Crozier rejected the American Abstractionist and Pop Art movements of the 1950s and 1960s and instead allied himself and his work with contemporary European thought and became part of the artistic and literary Soho set, which included Francis Bacon and Allen Ginsberg, among others. His artistic development was inspired by various travels such as a 1963 trip to southern Spain with the Irish poet Anthony Cronin, a visit to the Balkans in the 1970s and various trips to Russia, Greece, Tenerife and America . He also visited Belsen and Auschwitz and, inspired by this experience, he worked on a series of skeletal paintings which anticipated the “New Expressionist” German painters of the 1980s.
Based in London throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Crozier exhibited in London, Glasgow, Dublin and all over Europe. He also taught at Bath Academy of Art, the Central School of Art and Winchester School of Art where he was Head of Fine Art until 1987. During the 1980s, when he kept studios in Hampshire and West Cork in Ireland, his painting blossomed with a new freedom and confidence. In his later work he was particularly concerned with the challenge of creating a new language in figurative painting.