Much thanks are due to Geoffrey Reeve for sending in a copy of the list of works that include those shown by Pauline Boty in the group exhibition Blake, Boty, Porter, Reeve at the AIA Gallery in London in late 1961 which have now been added to the Collages listed here on the website. Many of these works, now sadly presumed lost, made an appearance in Ken Russell’s Pop Goes the Easel, originally broadcast by the BBC as part of the Monitor series of arts programme on 25th March 1962. Ultimately it is hoped further research will enable at least some of the lost collages shown in the film to be matched to their titles.
The gallery has celebrated the acquisition with the following announcement:
“For too long, the work of British Pop artist Pauline Boty has been notably absent from our collection. This acquisition fills a significant gap in our collection and supports our ongoing mission to increase our representation of women artists.
With support from the Art Fund, we are delighted to have acquired Untitled (Seascape with Boats and Island) (c.1960 – 61) from the Dr Jeffrey Sherwin Collection. It becomes the latest addition to our growing permanent collection of British and international modern art.
Pauline Boty (1938 – 1966) was at the centre of the emerging British Pop Art movement alongside fellow artists Sir Peter Blake, Derek Boshier and David Hockney. Her work epitomised Pop – they were colourful, gaudy and littered with references to popular culture – but also explored the artist’s perspective on the relationship between women and mass culture. A key figure of 1960s swinging London, she fully embraced the decade’s explosion of sexual and creative liberty, and her works were often sexually and politically charged. Dubbed the ‘Wimbledon Bardot’, her striking good looks and sexuality prevented her being taken seriously as an artist. Her artistic career was tragically brief owing to her death from cancer aged only 28. Whilst her glamorous persona endured, much of her work was lost or buried and her artistic contribution to Pop reduced to a footnote in the love lives of her male counterparts. Thankfully, a relatively recent reappraisal has placed her firmly back in the narrative of Pop art where she belongs. In 2014 we held the exhibition Pauline Boty: Pop Artist and Woman, the first survey of her career as a whole. The exhibition featured works that hadn’t been exhibited for over 40 years.
Collage was a popular technique for many Pop artists. Untitled (Seascape with Boats and Island) is one of Boty’s earlier collages and has been assembled from Victorian engravings. These old engravings were a key pictorial resource for the artist. The exotic landscape watched over by a towering white European woman is a reference to British colonialism. The monumental scale of the ‘feminine’ crochet structure and the woman on top represent Boty’s interest in exploring ideas around gender and identity, especially in historical narrative. This piece is reminiscent of much earlier works by artists such as Max Ernst and Paul Nash.”
The Art Newspaper has given another glowing review for London’s New Scene: Art and Culture in the 1960s by Lisa Tickner [see previous posts] including this mention of Boty “London’s New Scene is as elegantly handsome as David Hemmings in a pair of white jeans. The picture research is formidable: fashion shoots, cigar adverts, protest posters, film stills and Sunday Times strip cartoons run side by side with paintings by Hockney, Derek Boshier, Peter Blake, Pauline Boty, Bridget Riley et al. We are treated to lavish behind-the-scenes documentation of Russell at work on Pop Goes the Easel, and Antonioni researching and shooting Blow-Up.” The full review is here: [link]
Gareth Harris, chief contributing editor of The Art Newspaper will be talking with art historian Lisa Tickner about her book on IG Live tomorrow – Friday 10th July at 2pm BST/9am EDT Instagram Live. See @theartnewspaper.official for further info.
Jorge Lewinski’s photograph of Pauline Boty has been chosen by the latest issue of The Herald Magazine with a brief biography of her to illustrate their book review of London’s New Scene: Art and Culture in the 1960s [see News item, 12 May].
The review notes “Pauline Boty is one of the great what-ifs of the 1960s. What might she have gone on to do if she hadn’t died of cancer in 1966, aged just 28? She packed plenty into her short life as it was. Actor, broadcaster, proto-feminist, regular dancer on Ready Steady Go and, of course, the only British pop artist to be a woman. Boty’s good looks and whirlwind energy marked her out as a very 1960s creature (she may have been the inspiration for Julie Christie’s character in the film version of Billy Liar). The truth is she also suffered from bouts of depression and had to deal with the casual sexism of the age. Her lasting legacy is the vibrancy and the immediacy of her art. Boty is just one of the artists whose work features in Lisa Tickner’s comprehensive survey of the burgeoning art scene in London 60 years ago, taking in everyone from Gilbert & George to David Hockney.”
Two works by Pauline Boty have been chosen for June’s Dance Gazette – the magazine for the Royal Academy of Dance – to illustrate their book review of London’s New Scene: Art and Culture in the 1960s [see previous post]. The review notes “Dance is also in the mix – from the filmmaker Ken Russell, besotted with classic Hollywood musicals, to the artist Pauline Boty, who was a regular dancer on the tv pop series Ready Steady Go! and a dab hand at the twist. ‘All over the country young girls are sprouting, shouting and shaking,’ she said, ‘and if they terrify you they meant to.’” More info on the magazine is here [link]
In London’s New Scene: Art and Culture in the 1960s Lisa Tickner presents a sequence of critical case studies, each of which explores a particular institution or event in the cultural life of London between 1962 and 1968. Each chapter takes a particular topic as its focus – these include Ken Russell’s film Pop Goes the Easel (1962), the opening of the Kasmin Gallery (1963), the first of the New Generation exhibitions and Painting and Sculpture of a Decade: ’54-’64 at the Whitechapel and Tate Galleries (1964), Lord Snowdon’s photographs of artists in Private View (1965), Antonioni’s London film Blow-Up (1966), and more. The book treats a film, a gallery, an exhibition, a book, a protest, as itself a ’work’: as a creative project in its own right, built from the resources to hand, subject to the pressures of the moment, comparable in its own way to the art it draws on or frames.
The illustrations include art works by David Hockney, Peter Blake, Derek Boshier, Pauline Boty, Bridget Riley, John Latham and Barry Flanagan, photographs by David Bailey, Ida Kar, Jorge Lewinski and Lord Snowdon, and a wide range of film stills, gallery installation shots, advertisements and press photography.” [information courtesy of Yale University Press]
SPECIFICATIONS Publisher: Paul Mellon Centre Distribution: Yale University Press Format: Hardback Size: 256 x 192mm Pages: 424pp Illustrations: 200/80 colour ISBN: 9781913107109 Price: £35
The programme was clearly close to Pauline Boty’s heart – she was regularly chosen as a dancer in the audience with her friend and fellow Pop artist Derek Boshier. The first documentary includes footage of them dancing in the party scene concluding Ken Russell’s “Pop Goes The Easel”. Further information from and links to the BBC website below:
“The story of Britain’s iconic 1960s music show, Ready Steady Go! The programme revolutionised television ‘for the kids’ and coincided with the tremendous explosion of British pop talent that took the world by storm. It championed emerging talent like The Beatles, The Who, Sandie Shaw, Cilla Black, Otis Redding and The Rolling Stones.”
The Story of Ready Steady Go! BBC4, 21:00, Friday 20th March 2020 We go behind the scenes and speak to the people who made it all happen, including original producer Vicki Wickham and the programme’s pioneering director, Michael Lindsay-Hogg. Plus further contributions from Annie Nightingale, Eric Burdon, Chris Farlowe, Mary Wilson, Martha Reeves, Paul Jones, Gerry Marsden and Jools Holland. Further information available here [link]
The Best of Ready Steady Go! BBC4, 22:00, Friday 20th March 2020 This priceless archive has rarely been seen and includes some of the most memorable performances from the greatest stars of the day. Tune in to see The Beatles perform Twist and Shout on a moving stage, The Rolling Stones presenting their very own episode, and Otis Redding’s sensational duet with Chris Farlowe and Eric Burdon. Other acts include Cilla Black, Lulu, and Martha and the Vandellas. Dusty Springfield also takes centre stage. Further information available here [link]
The portrait of Pauline Boty with her presumed lost work “Scandal ’63” is on display in “The UK 1960–Today” in Room 32 at the National Portrait Gallery.
“The display includes groups of portraits by particular artists, inviting the viewer to consider the range of contrasting approaches. While the challenge of depicting an observed sitter remained, a rich stylistic diversity characterises portraiture in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
From the early 1960s the pace of social, political and artistic change in Britain gathered momentum. Food rationing ended only in 1954 and a growing affluence and a new mood of prosperity gave rise to increasing consumerism. Television, cinema, radio, advertising and magazines fuelled these changes by swiftly communicating the latest developments in fashion, design, music, science and the arts. But the optimism of the early 1960s was, by the end of the decade, replaced by a sense that the dream of progress had somehow slipped away. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s inequality in material wealth increasingly created new hierarchies and social tension.” [from the National Portrait Gallery website]
With thanks to Terence Pepper for the notification. More information on the portraits on display can be found here: [link]
This new section lists some of the sources for titles of Pauline Boty’s paintings such as “Monica Vitti with Heart” shown below. In future the intention is to expand it further and also add information on the content she included, such as the names of individuals featured in the works. Access the new section here [link]
Paulineboty.org: What were your first impressions when you met Pauline Boty? Derek Boshier: My first impressions on meeting Pauline were the same as almost everybody. She was a very vivacious, glamorous intellectual. You know. And a lot of fun –the fact that she should have died so early aged 28… I mean, she loved life, you know – and she knew how to live it. She was just good to be around really. And that aspect of her, knowing how to live life, really fed her paintings too.
PBO: Did Pauline express her frustration at having to study stained glass instead of art as she’d originally wanted to? DB: No. Mainly because she wasn’t a complainer. Politics though – Yes – but not her personal life. The Anti-Ugly March she organised for example, which I went on. She was the figurehead for that. The point about her is that she said her mind – not only in paintings with sensuality and sexuality, but she said it with architecture. I mean she was very direct.
PBO: And your painting “Pauline Boty Goes Digital [for Pauline Boty]”. How did that come about? DB: Well it’s a very large painting that I made in 2011. You know, I always think of Pauline and what she did and I’m often reminded of her when people write to me and ask me about her or “Pop Goes the Easel” and I remember my friendship with her. I was about to start a new series of paintings about smartphones and I just thought before I do that I’d like to do a homage to Pauline as it were, just to help keep her in people’s memory really.