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Pauline Boty

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Pauline Boty
Boty in 1964 (portrait by David Bailey)
Born(1938-03-06)6 March 1938
Carshalton, Surrey, England
Died1 July 1966(1966-07-01) (aged 28)
London, England
Known forPainting
MovementPop art
Clive Goodwin
(m. 1963)

Pauline Boty (6 March 1938 – 1 July 1966) was a British painter and co-founder of the 1960s' British Pop art movement of which she was the only acknowledged female member. Boty's paintings and collages often demonstrate a joy in self-assured femininity and female sexuality, as well as criticism (both overt and implicit) 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[edit]

Early life and education[edit]

Pauline Veronica Boty was born in Carshalton, Surrey, 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.[1] In 1954 she won a scholarship to the Wimbledon School of Art,[2] 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.[3] 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.[3] 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.[4] 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.[5] Despite the institutionalised 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 organised 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.

Self-portrait in stained glass, circa 1958

While at the Royal College of Art, Boty engaged in a number of extracurricular activities. She sang, danced, and acted in risqué college reviews, published her poetry in an alternative student magazine, and was a knowledgeable presence in the film society where she developed her interest, especially in European new wave cinema.[5] 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.[6][7]


Boty was at her most productive 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).[8]

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.[9]

Boty's appearance in Pop Goes the Easel marked the beginning of her brief acting career. She landed roles in an Armchair Theatre play for ITV ("North City Traffic Straight Ahead", 1962) directed by Philip Saville[10] 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[11][12] at the Royal Court, and in Riccardo Aragno's (from the novel by Anthony Powell) Afternoon Men[13][14] 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 was a distraction 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.[15] The popular press picked up on her glamorous actress persona, often undermining her legitimacy as an artist by referring to her physical appearance. 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."[16]

Siren in stained glass c. 1958 – c. 1962

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.[17][18] 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.[19] 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. 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 (1932–1977) after a ten-day romance.[20] Her marriage disappointed others such as 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.[21] (Their affair is said to have provided the material for a screenplay by Frederic Raphael for the movie Darling.[22] Boty and Goodwin's Cromwell Road flat became a central hang-out for many artists, musicians, and writers, including Bob Dylan (whom Philip Saville brought to England, collecting him from London Airport with Boty). Dylan stayed in Boty's flat. David Hockney, Peter Blake, Michael White, Kenneth Tynan, Troy Kennedy Martin, John McGrath, Dennis Potter and Roger McGough.[23] Goodwin, to be later a member of the founding editorial team of the radical journal Black Dwarf, is said to have encouraged Boty to include political content in her paintings.[20]

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 male 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".[24] Her last known painting, BUM,[25] was commissioned by Kenneth Tynan for Oh, Calcutta! and was completed in 1966.[26]


In June 1965 Boty became pregnant. During a prenatal exam, a tumour was discovered and she was diagnosed with cancer[27] (malignant Thymoma). She refused to have an abortion and also refused to receive chemotherapy treatment that might have harmed the foetus.[28] 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.[21] Her daughter, Boty (known as Katy)[29] Goodwin, was born on 12 February 1966. Pauline Boty died at the Royal Marsden Hospital on 1 July that year.[30] She was 28 years old. Her husband died in 1977 aged only 45.[31] Her daughter, Boty Goodwin, died from a heroin overdose on 12 November 1995 aged 29.[32]


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.[33] Her work was rediscovered in the 1990s, thanks to curator David Mellor and academic Dr. Sue Tate, renewing interest in her contribution to Pop art, and gaining her inclusion in several group exhibitions and a major solo retrospective. The location of some of her most sought after paintings was unknown.[27]

Blue plaque

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."[34]

Boty's life and work also form a major theme in Ali Smith's 2016 novel, Autumn.[35]

In November 2019, the New York Times profiled Boty in their Overlooked No More series: "Pauline Boty, Rebellious Pop Artist".[36]

On the 1st of July 2023 - A Blue Plaque was erected for Pauline Boty at 7A Addison Avenue, Holland Park at her former home and studio, the unveiling was carried out by Natalie Gibson and Celia Birtwell with Sir Peter Blake in attendance alongside other friends , family and admirers of Pauline Boty.[37]

Marc Kristal's biography Pauline Boty: British Pop Art's Sole Sister was published in 2023.


  • 2023: "Capturing the Moment", Tate Modern, London [38]
  • 1 December 2023 to 24 February 2024. Pauline Boty: A Portrait. London: Gazelli Art House.[39]
  • 2020 (2020): "She-Bam Pow POP Wizz! The Amazons of Pop", Musée d'art moderne et d'art contemporain, Nice, France (shown 2021 at Kunsthalle Kiel and 2022 at Kunsthaus Graz)
  • 2013 retrospective exhibition of her work opened at Wolverhampton Art Gallery[27]
  • 2014 (2014): "Pauline Boty and pop art", Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź, Poland (cooperation with Wolverhampton Art Gallery)
  • 2013 retrospective exhibition of her work opened at Wolverhampton Art Gallery[27]
  • 2013 – 2014 Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, West Sussex[27]
  • 2013 (2013) – 2014 (2014): "Pauline Boty: Pop Artist and Woman", Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, UK[40][34]
  • 2013 (2013): "Pauline Boty: Pop Artist and Woman", Wolverhampton Art Gallery, UK[41]
  • 2010 (2010): "Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists, 1958–1968", University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA [travelling exhibition]
  • 2009 (2009): "Awkward Objects": Alina Szapocznikow and Mária Bartuszová, Pauline Boty, Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hesse, and Paulina Ołowska, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Poland
  • 2004 (2004): "Art and the 60s: This Was Tomorrow", Tate Britain, London, UK[42]
  • 2002 (2002): "Pin-up: Glamour and Celebrity", Tate Liverpool, UK
  • 1998 (1998): "Pauline Boty-The Only Blonde in the World", The Mayor Gallery & Whitford Fine Art, London, UK
  • 1997 (1997): "The Pop '60s: Transatlantic Crossing", Centro Cultural de Belém, Lisbon, Portugal
  • 1996 (1996): "Les Sixties: Great Britain and France 1962–1973", Musée d'Histoire Contemporaine, Paris, France and Museum and Art Gallery, Brighton, UK
  • 1995 (1995): "Post War to Pop", Whitford Fine Art, London, UK
  • 1993 (1993): "Pauline Boty", Mayor Gallery, London, UK
  • 1993 (1993): "The Sixties Art Scene in London", Barbican Art Gallery, London, UK
  • 1982 (1982): "Pop-Art" Galeria, Koszalin, Poland
  • 1982 (1982): "Miedzy Hiperrealizmem a Pop Artem", Muzeum Regionalne, Radomsko, Poland
  • 1981 (1981): "Realizm Spoleczny Pop-Artu", Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź, Poland
  • 1976 (1976) – 1977 (1977) Travelling exhibition: Poland
  • 1965 (1965) – 1966 (1966): "Spring Exhibition", Cartwright Memorial Hall, Bradford, UK
  • 1965 (1965): "Contemporary Art", Grabowski Gallery, London, UK
  • 1963 (1963): "Pauline Boty", Grabowski Gallery, London, UK
  • 1963 (1963): "Pop Art", Midland Group Gallery, Nottingham, UK
  • 1962 (1962): "New Approaches to the Figure", Arthur Jeffress Gallery, London, UK
  • 1962 (1962): "New Art" – Festival of Labour, Congress House, London, UK
  • 1961 (1961): "Blake, Boty, Porter, Reeve", AIA Gallery, London, UK
  • 1960 (1960) – 1961 (1961): "Modern Stained Glass", Arts Council Tour
  • 1957 (1957) – 1959 (1959): "Young Contemporaries", RBA Galleries, London, UK

Permanent collections[edit]



  • 1966 (1966): Alfie ... one of Alfie's girlfriends (uncredited)


  • 1966 (1966): The Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre (Episode: "Strangler's Web)" ... Nell Pretty
  • 1965 (1965): BBC TV, The Londoners – A Day Out for Lucy ... Patsy
  • 1965 (1965): Contract to Kill (BBC TV mini-series) ... the seductive Maria Galen
  • 1965 (1965): The Day of Ragnarok
  • 1964 (1964): Ken Russell's Béla Bartók (BBC Monitor Series) ... Prostitute
  • 1964 (1964): BBC, Short Circuit-The Park ... Pauline
  • 1964 (1964): Espionage (Episode: The Frantick Rebel) ... Mistress Fleay
  • 1963 (1963): Ready Steady Go! ... Dancer
  • 1963 (1963): Don't Say a Word (game show) ... herself
  • 1963 (1963): BBC, Maigret: Peter the Lett ... Josie
  • 1962 (1962): BBC, The Face They See ... Rona
  • 1962 (1962): ITV Armchair Theatre (Episode: North City Traffic Straight Ahead) ... Anna
  • 1962 (1962): Ken Russell's Pop Goes the Easel (BBC Monitor Series) ... Herself


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ Great Women Artists. Phaidon Press. 2019. p. 69. ISBN 978-0-7148-7877-5.
  3. ^ a b Watling, pp. 1–2.
  4. ^ Watling, pp. 2–3
  5. ^ a b Watling, p.4
  6. ^ Gavin Stamp (2013). Anti-Ugly: Excursions in English Architecture and Design. Aurum Press. p. 9. ISBN 978-1-78131-123-3.
  7. ^ 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).
  8. ^ Watling, p. 5
  9. ^ Michael Brooke. "Pop Goes the Easel (1962)". BFI Screenonline. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  10. ^ "Too Much of a Nightmare Existence". The Times. 23 July 1962. p. 14. Retrieved 10 January 2024 – via The Times Digital Archive.
  11. ^ Getty Images/Hulton Archive . . Photograph: Chris Ware.
  12. ^ "From Our Dramatic Critic. "Brilliant Glimpse of a Potential Play". The Times. 15 May 1963. p. 15. Retrieved 10 January 2024 – via The Times Digital Archive.
  13. ^ Getty Images/Hulton Archive .. Photograph: Jim Gray.
  14. ^ "From Our Dramatic Critic. "Compromise in Stage Adaptation of Book."". 23 August 1963. p. 11. Retrieved 10 January 2024 – via The Times Digital Archive.
  15. ^ Watling, p. 7
  16. ^ Scene, No. 9, 8 November 1962. As quoted in Watling and Mellor.
  17. ^ David Alan Mellor, "The Only Blonde in the World", in Watling and Mellor, p. 21
  18. ^ Alastair Sooke (12 June 2013). "Pauline Boty: The UK's forgotten pop artist". The Telegraph. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  19. ^ Stephen Farthing, ed. (2006). 1001 Paintings You Must See Before You Die. Cassell Illustrated/Quintessence. ISBN 978-1-84403-563-2.
  20. ^ a b Watling (1998), p.16
  21. ^ a b Sabine Durrant (7 March 1993). "The Darling of Her Generation". The Independent on Sunday. Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. The darling of her generation: Pauline Boty was the heartbreaker of the Sixties art scene. Talented and outspoken, she was loved by countless men, including the painter Peter Blake. With a revival of interest in her paintings, they are growing misty-eyed again
  22. ^ 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
  23. ^ Smith, p. 14
  24. ^ Reckitt, Helena; Phelan, Peggy (2001). Art and feminism. London: Phaidon. ISBN 9780714847023. OCLC 48098625.
  25. ^ "Bum, 1966 – Pauline Boty – WikiArt.org". wikiart.org. WikiArt. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  26. ^ Watling, p. 18. See also Smith, p. 14.
  27. ^ a b c d e Stummer, Robin (27 April 2013). "Mystery of missing art of Pauline Boty". The Observer. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  28. ^ Watling, p.17
  29. ^ "Alfie girl Pauline gave her life to save her baby but it was all in vain..Katy killed herself with heroin; EXCLUSIVE: TRAGIC TALE OF 60s STAR STRUCK BY FAMILY CURSE". thefreelibrary.com. 23 October 2004. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  30. ^ Adam Curtis (30 October 2011). "Dream On". BBC. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  31. ^ "Mr Clive Goodwin". The Times. 21 November 1977. p. 17. Retrieved 9 January 2024 – via The Times Digital Archive.
  32. ^ Ali Smith (22 October 2016). "Ali Smith on the prime of pop artist Pauline Boty". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  33. ^ "Alice Rawsthorn celebrates Pauline Boty". The Guardian. 19 June 2004. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  34. ^ a b Hamilton, Adrian (22 December 2013). "Pauline Boty: The marginalised artist of British Pop Art is enjoying a revival". The Independent on Sunday. London. Archived from the original on 25 May 2022. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  35. ^ Joanna Kavenna (12 October 2016). "Autumn by Ali Smith review – a beautiful, transient symphony". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  36. ^ Rosenberg, Karen (20 November 2019). "Overlooked No More: Pauline Boty, Rebellious Pop Artist". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  37. ^ "Blue plaque to be unveiled for Pauline Boty at Addison Avenue on Saturday 1st July 2023". Pauline Boty. 21 June 2023. Retrieved 16 February 2024.
  38. ^ Tate. "Capturing The Moment | Tate Modern". Tate. Retrieved 7 March 2024.
  39. ^ "A Portrait. Pauline Boty" (PDF). Gazelli Art House. 2023. Retrieved 17 February 2024.
  40. ^ "Pauline Boty: Pop Artist and Woman: 30 November 2013 – 9 February 2014" (Press release). Pallant House Gallery. 11 September 2013. Retrieved 12 July 2020. 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.
  41. ^ "Pauline Boty: Pop Artist and Woman – Wolverhampton Arts & Culture". wolverhamptonart.org.uk. 1 June 2013. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  42. ^ 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 12 July 2020.
  43. ^ "Pauline Boty | Smithsonian American Art Museum". americanart.si.edu.
  44. ^ "Pauline Boty 1938–1966". Tate.
  45. ^ "The Only Blonde in the World | Art UK". artuk.org.
  46. ^ "Pauline Boty - National Portrait Gallery". www.npg.org.uk.
  47. ^ "An early Pauline Boty collage joins our collection | Perspectives". Pallant House Gallery. 6 March 2020. Retrieved 7 March 2024.
  48. ^ "Stained glass panel of a female figure - ELYGM:L2009.4 The Stained Glass Museum, Ely". stainedglassmuseum.com. Retrieved 7 March 2024.


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