6 March 1938|
1 July 1966 (aged 28)|
Pauline Boty (6 March 1938 – 1 July 1966) was a founder of the British Pop art movement and the only female painter in the British wing of the movement. Boty's paintings and collages often demonstrated a joy in self-assured femininity and female sexuality, and expressed overt or implicit criticism of the "man's world" in which she lived. Her rebellious art, combined with her free-spirited lifestyle, has made Boty a herald of 1970s feminism.
Life and works
Early life and education
Boty was born in suburban south London in 1938 into a middle-class, Catholic family. The youngest of four children, she had three older brothers and a stern father who made her keenly aware of her position as a girl. In 1954 she won a scholarship to the Wimbledon School of Art, which she attended despite her father's disapproval. Boty's mother, on the other hand, was supportive, having herself been a frustrated artist and denied parental permission to attend the Slade School of Fine Art. Boty earned an Intermediate diploma in lithography (1956) and a National Diploma in Design in stained glass (1958). Her schoolmates called her "The Wimbledon Bardot" on account of her resemblance to the French film star Brigitte Bardot. Encouraged by her tutor Charles Carey to explore collage techniques, Boty's painting became more experimental. Her work showed an interest in popular culture early on. In 1957 one of her pieces was shown at the Young Contemporaries exhibition alongside work by Robyn Denny, Richard Smith and Bridget Riley.
She studied at the School of Stained Glass at the Royal College of Art (1958–61). She had wanted to attend the School of Painting, but was dissuaded from applying as admission rates for women were much lower in that department. Despite the institutionalized sexism at her college, Boty was one of the stronger students in her class, and in 1960 one of her stained glass works was included in the travelling exhibition Modern Stained Glass organized by the Arts Council. Boty continued to paint on her own in her student flat in west London and in 1959 she had three more works selected for the Young Contemporaries exhibition. During this time she also became friends with other emerging Pop artists, such as David Hockney, Derek Boshier, Peter Phillips and Peter Blake.
While at the Royal College of Art, Boty engaged in a number of extracurricular activities. She sang, danced, and acted in somewhat risqué college reviews, published her poetry in an alternative student magazine, and was a knowledgeable presence at the film society where she developed her interest especially in European new wave cinema. She was also an active participant in Anti-Ugly Action, a group of RCA students involved in the stained glass, and later architecture, courses who protested against new British architecture that they considered offensive and of poor quality.
Boty was at her most productive just two years after graduating from college . She developed a signature Pop style and iconography. Her first group show, "Blake, Boty, Porter, Reeve" was held in November 1961 at A.I.A. gallery in London and was hailed as one of the first British Pop art shows. She exhibited twenty collages, including Is it a bird, is it a plane? and a rose is a rose is a rose, which demonstrated her interest in drawing from both high and low popular culture sources in her art (the first title references the Superman comic, the second quotes the American expatriate poet Gertrude Stein).
The following spring Boty, Peter Blake, Derek Boshier and Peter Phillips were featured in Ken Russell's BBC Monitor documentary film Pop Goes the Easel, which was aired on 22 March 1962. Although the documentary placed Boty at the centre of the nascent British Pop art movement, unlike her male peers she did not get an opportunity to speak directly and intelligently about her work during the film.
Boty's appearance in Pop Goes the Easel marked the beginning of her brief acting career. She landed roles in a Armchair Theatre play for ITV ("North City Traffic Straight Ahead", 1962) and an episode of the BBC series Maigret ("Peter the Lett", 1963). She also appeared on stage in Frank Hilton's comedy Day of the Prince at the Royal Court, and in Riccardo Aragno's (from the novel by Anthony Powell) Afternoon Men at the New Arts Theatre. (Boty, a regular on the club scene in London, was also a dancer on Ready Steady Go!). Although acting was lucrative, it distracted her from painting, which remained her main priority. Yet the men in her life encouraged her to pursue acting, as it was a more conventional career choice for women in the early 1960s. The popular press picked up on her glamorous actress persona, often undermining her legitimacy as an artist by referring to her physical charms. Scene ran a front-page article in November 1962 that included the following remarks: "Actresses often have tiny brains. Painters often have large beards. Imagine a brainy actress who is also a painter and also a blonde, and you have PAULINE BOTY."
Her unique position as Britain's only female Pop artist gave Boty the chance to redress sexism in her life as well as her art. Her early paintings were sensual and erotic, celebrating female sexuality from a woman's point of view. Her canvases were set against vivid, colourful backgrounds and often included close-ups of red flowers, presumably symbolic of the female sex. She painted her male idols—Elvis, French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo, British writer Derek Marlowe—as sex symbols, just as she did actresses Monica Vitti and Marilyn Monroe. Like Andy Warhol, she recycled publicity and press photographs of celebrities in her art. Her 1963 portrait of her friend Celia Birtwell, Celia and Her Heroes, shows the textile designer surrounded by a Peter Blake painting, a David Hockney portrait and an image of Elvis Presley. She exhibited in several more group shows before staging her first solo exhibition at Grabowski Gallery in the autumn of 1963. The show was a critical success. However, Boty continued to take on additional acting jobs. She was a presenter on the radio programme Public Ear in 1963-64, and in the following year she was typecast yet again in the role of 'the seductive Maria' in a BBC serial.
In June 1963 she married the literary agent Clive Goodwin (1932-1978) after a mere ten-day romance. Her marriage disappointed many, including Peter Blake and her married lover, the television director Philip Saville, whom she had met towards the end of her student days and had worked for. (Their affair is said to have obtained the material for a screenplay by Frederic Raphael; the movie Darling.) (1966). Boty and Goodwin's Cromwell Road flat became a central hang-out for many artists, musicians, and writers, including Bob Dylan (whom Boty brought to England), David Hockney, Peter Blake, Michael White, Kenneth Tynan, Troy Kennedy Martin, John McGrath, Dennis Potter and Roger McGough. Goodwin, to be later a member of the founding editorial team of radical journal Black Dwarf, is said to have encouraged Boty to include political content in her paintings.
Her paintings did become more overtly critical over time. Countdown to Violence depicts a number of harrowing current events, including the Birmingham riot of 1963, the Assassination of John F. Kennedy and the Vietnam War. Cuba Si (1963) references the Cuban revolution. The collage painting It's a Man's World I (1964) juxtaposes images of patriarchal icons The Beatles, Albert Einstein, Lenin, Muhammad Ali, Marcel Proust and other men. In It's a Man's World II (1965–66) she redisplayed female nudes from fine art and soft-core pornographic sources to signify newly liberated "female eroticism". Her last known painting, BUM, was commissioned by Kenneth Tynan for Oh, Calcutta! and was completed in 1966.
In June 1965 Boty unexpectedly became pregnant. During a prenatal exam a tumour was discovered and she was diagnosed with cancer (malignant Thymoma). She refused to have an abortion and also refused to receive chemotherapy treatment that might have harmed the foetus. Instead she smoked marijuana to ease the pain of her terminal condition. She continued to entertain her friends and even sketched The Rolling Stones during her illness. Her daughter, Katy (later Boty) Goodwin, was born in February 1966. Boty died at the Royal Marsden Hospital on 1 July that year. She was 28 years old. Her daughter, Boty Goodwin, died of an overdose in 1995.
After her death Pauline Boty's paintings were stored away in a barn on her brother's farm and she was largely forgotten for nearly 30 years. Her work was rediscovered in the 1990s, renewing interest in her contribution to Pop art, and gaining her inclusion in several group exhibitions and a major solo retrospective. The current location of several of her most sought after paintings is unknown.
In December 2013, Adrian Hamilton wrote in The Independent on Sunday, "Ignored for decades after her death – it was nearly 30 years before her first picture was shown – a proper retrospective has had to wait until this year with a show which originated in Wolverhampton and has now opened in the Pallant Gallery in Chichester. Looking at her pictures today, it is simply incredible that it has taken so long. [...] It's not a big exhibition. Given the paucity of her surviving work it could not be otherwise. But it is one which leaves you eager for more, more of the pictures she did paint and the ones she didn't live long enough for."
A major retrospective exhibition of her work opened at Wolverhampton Art Gallery on 1 June 2013, and subsequently toured to Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, West Sussex from 30 November 2013 – 9 February 2014.
- 2014"Pauline Boty and pop art", Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź, Poland (cooperation with Wolverhampton Art Gallery) :
- 2013"Pauline Boty: Pop Artist and Woman", Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, UK – 2014 : 
- 2013"Pauline Boty: Pop Artist and Woman", Woverhampton Art Gallery, UK: 
- 2010"Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists, 1958-1968", University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA [traveling exhibition]:
- 2009"Awkward Objects: Alina Szapocznikow and Maria Bartuszova, Pauline Boty, Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hesse, and Paulina Ołowska, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Poland:
- 2004"Art and the 60s: This Was Tomorrow", Tate Britain, London, UK: 
- 2002"Pin-up: Glamour and Celebrity", Tate Liverpool, UK:
- 1998"Pauline Boty-The Only Blonde in the World", The Mayor Gallery & Whitford Fine Art, London:
- 1997"The Pop '60s: Transatlantic Crossing", Centro Cultural de Belém, Lisbon, Portugal:
- 1996"Les Sixties: Great Britain and France 1962-1973", Musée d'Histoire Contemporaine, Paris, France and Museum and Art Gallery, Brighton, UK:
- 1995"Post War to Pop", Whitford Fine Art, London, UK:
- 1993"Pauline Boty", Mayor Gallery, London, UK:
- 1993"The Sixties Art Scene In London", Barbican Art Gallery, London, UK:
- 1982"Pop-Art" Galeria, Koszalin, Poland:
- 1982"Miedzy Hiperrealizmem a Pop Artem", Muzeum Regionalne, Radomsko, Poland:
- 1981"Realizm Spoleczny Pop-Artu", Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź, Poland:
- 1976 Poland – 1977 Traveling exhibition:
- 1965"Spring Exhibition", Cartwright Memorial Hall, Bradford, UK – 1966 :
- 1965"Contemporary Art", Grabowski Gallery, London, UK:
- 1963"Pauline Boty", Grabowski Gallery, London, UK:
- 1963"Pop Art", Midland Group Gallery, Nottingham, UK:
- 1962"New Approaches to the Figure", Arthur Jeffress Gallery, London, UK:
- 1962"New Art"-Festival of Labour, Congress House, London, UK:
- 1961"Blake, Boty, Porter, Reeve", AIA Gallery, London, UK:
- 1960"Modern Stained Glass", Arts Council Tour – 1961 :
- 1957"Young Contemporaries", RBA Galleries, London, UK – 1959 :
- 1966Alfie ... one of Alfie's girlfriends (uncredited):
- 1965"The Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre" (Episode: Strangler's Web) ... Nell Pretty:
- 1965BBC TV, The Londoners - A Day Out for Lucy ... Patsy:
- 1965"Contract to Kill" (BBC TV mini-series) ... the seductive Maria Galen:
- 1965"The Day of Ragnarok":
- 1964Ken Russell's Béla Bartók (BBC Monitor Series) .... Prostitute:
- 1964BBC, Short Circuit-The Park ... Pauline:
- 1964"Espionage" (Episode: The Frantick Rebel) ... Mistress Fleay:
- 1963"Ready, Steady, Go!" ... Dancer:
- 1963"Don't Say a Word" (game show) ... herself:
- 1963BBC, Maigret: Peter the Lett ... Josie:
- 1962BBC, The Face They See ... Rona:
- 1962ITV Armchair Theatre (Episode: North City Traffic Straight Ahead) ... Anna:
- 1962Ken Russell's Pop Goes the Easel (BBC Monitor Series) ... Herself:
- Sue Watling, "Pauline Boty: Pop Painter" in Sue Watling and David Alan Mellor, The Only Blonde in the World: Pauline Boty (1938-1966), [exhibition catalogue] Whitford Fine Art & The Mayor Gallery Ltd. (London: AM Publications, 1998), p. 1.
- Watling, pp. 1-2.
- Watling, pp. 2-3
- Watling, p.4
- Boty told the Daily Express, "I think the Air Ministry building is a real stinker, with the Farmers' Union HQ, the Bank of England [that's the huge curved block along New Change by Victor Heal], and the Financial Times as runners-up." Boty, as quoted in Gavin Stamp, "Anti-ugly: campaigning against ugly buildings may seem admirable, but a recent call for demolitions is based on philistinism" in Apollo (Jan 2005).
- Watling, p. 5
- Michael Brooke. "Pop Goes the Easel (1962)". BFI Screenonline. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
- Watling, p. 6
- Getty Images/Hulton Archive . . Photograph: Chris Ware. | http://www.gettyimages.com.au/detail/news-photo/artist-and-actress-pauline-boty-stars-as-the-girl-with-the-news-photo/50947302
- Getty Images/Hulton Archive .. Photograph: Jim Gray. http://www.gettyimages.com.au/detail/news-photo/pauline-boty-and-james-fox-rehearse-a-scene-from-the-play-news-photo/50947296
- Watling, p. 7
- Scene, No. 9, November 8, 1962. As quoted in Watling and Mellor.
- David Alan Mellor, "The Only Blonde in the World," in Watling and Mellor, p. 21
- Alastair Sooke (12 June 2013). "Pauline Boty: The UK's forgotten pop artist". The Telegraph. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
- Stephen Farthing (Editor) (2006). 1001 Paintings You Must See Before You Die. Cassell Illustrated/Quintessence. ISBN 978-1-84403-563-2.
- Watling (1998), p.16
- Sabine Durrant "The Darling of Her Generation", The Independent on Sunday, 7 March 1993
- Boty auditioned for the role that went to Julie Christie. See Bill Smith, "The Only Blonde in the World," Latest Art, February 2006, p.1
- Boty and Philip Saville brought Dylan to England, collecting him from London Airport. Dylan stayed in Boty's flat. See Smith, p. 10.
- Smith, p.14
- Art and feminism. Reckitt, Helena., Phelan, Peggy. London: Phaidon. 2001. ISBN 9780714847023. OCLC 48098625.
- [http://www.wikiart.org/en/pauline-boty/bum-1966 Bum - Pauline Boty - WikiArt.org .
- Watling, p. 18. See also Smith, p. 14.
- Stummer, Robin (2013-04-27). "Mystery of missing art of Pauline Boty". The Observer. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- Watling, p.17
- The Mirror, 23 October 2004 URL= https://www.thefreelibrary.com/Alfie+girl+Pauline+gave+her+life+to+save+her+baby+but+it+was+all+in...-a0123528859 Date accessed= 5 January 2018
- Adam Curtis "Dream On", The Medium and the Message (blog), BBC website, 30 October 2011
- Ali Smith (22 October 2016). "Ali Smith on the prime of pop artist Pauline Boty". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
- Alice Rawsthorn "Tomorrow's Girl", The Guardian, 19 June 2004
- Hamilton, Adrian (22 December 2013). "Pauline Boty: The marginalised artist of British Pop Art is enjoying a revival". The Independent on Sunday. London. Retrieved 17 September 2017.
- Joanna Kavenna (12 October 2016). "Autumn by Ali Smith review – a beautiful, transient symphony". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
- press release (11 September 2013). "Pauline Boty: Pop Artist and Woman : 30 November 2013 – 9 February 2014". Pallant House Gallery.
Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, West Sussex, is delighted to present the first public exhibition to survey the work and career of Pauline Boty (1938-1966), the pioneering Pop artist known for her glamorous, free-spirited lifestyle.
- Margaret Drabble (23 August 2014). "'Friendly, glowing, bronzed, curious, eager, impulsive: the world was all before her, and she knew it'– The one that got away:". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
- Sue Tate 'Pauline Boty : Pop Artist and Woman' (life and works) Wolverhampton Art Gallery with the Paul Mellon Foundation, 2013
- Sue Watling and David Alan Mellor. The Only Blonde in the World: Pauline Boty (1938-1966). [exhibition catalogue] Whitford Fine Art & The Mayor Gallery Ltd. London: AM Publications, 1998
- Kalliopi Minioudaki, "Pop's Ladies and Bad Girls: Axell, Pauline Boty and Rosalyn Drexler," Oxford Art Journal, Vol 30, Issue 3 (2007), pp. 402–430
- Adam Smith, Now You See Her: Pauline Boty, First Lady of British Pop, 2002
- Sue Tate ‘Re-occupying the Erotic Body: The Paintings and “Performance” of Pauline Boty, British Pop Artist (1938–66)’ in 'Sexual Politics of Desire and Belonging'. Rumens, Nick & Alejandro Cervantes-Carson (Eds.) Rodopi, Amsterdam/New York, NY, 2007.
- Sue Tate ‘ “Forward Via a Female Past” : Pauline Boty and the Historiographical promise of the Woman Pop Artist’ in 'Feminism Reframed, Reflections on Art and Difference' A M Kokoli (ed) Cambridge Scholar Publishing, Newcastle, 2008, pp. 177–205.
- Sue Tate, “A Transgression Too Far: Women artists and the British Pop Art Movement” in Sachs, S and Minioudaki, K (eds) Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists 1958-68 University of the Arts, Philadelphia and Abbeville Press, New York and London, 2010
- Sid Sachs and Kalliopi Minioudaki, eds. Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists, 1958-1968. [exhibition catalogue] University of the Arts, Philadelphia. New York and London: Abbeville Press, 2010
- Bill Smith, "The Only Blonde in the World," Latest Art, Issue 2 (Autumn 2006), pp. 10–15
- Lawrence van Gelder, "Eye-Catchers," The New York Times. March 26, 2002
- Professor Laura Mulvey on Pauline Boty
- Pauline Boty in the National Portrait Gallery
- Pauline Boty at the British Film Institute
- Pauline Boty on IMDb
- Pauline Boty on artnet
- Pauline Boty Collection, Photos by John Aston
- on YouTube (Michael Bracewell on The Only Blonde in the World (1963) by Pauline Boty)