The first posthumous exhibition of leading British pop artist and sculptor Gerald Laing (1936 – 2011) opened at the Fine Art Society in London on the fifth anniversary of his death. The exhibition presents more than 70 paintings and sculptures, including several of his most important works, the exhibition traces the entire trajectory of the artist’s career.
Part of the original wave of British pop artists, Gerald Laing helped define the visual language of the 1960s, producing some of the movement’s most important works, including Brigitte Bardot (1962). Also a figurative sculptor of great distinction, Laing continues to hold his place as one of the most important artists of his generation.
The Fine Art Society exhibition reiterates all phases of Gerald Laing’s career from the first pop paintings he produced while still a student at St Martins School of Art in London, including portraiture monumental of the French movie star and wife of director Jean-Luc. Godard, Anna Karina.
After moving to New York City in 1964, Laing was quickly integrated into the movement’s American counterpart, befriending Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, and James Rosenquist and exhibiting widely. Here he produced some of his most famous pop paintings: large-scale canvases of models, astronauts, hot rods and movie stars, capturing the excitement and exuberance of ’60s America. .
Disillusioned with the capitalist values of the Pop genre in the mid-1960s, Laing radically moved away from sculpture, first producing abstract minimalist sculpture and later, after moving to rural Scotland, figurative bronzes. Based at 16th-century Kinkell Castle in the Scottish Highlands, which he purchased and restored from a derelict, Laing devoted his energies exclusively to sculpture for the next three decades. He learned to melt on his own under the expert guidance of craftsman George Mancini and established his own bronze foundry nearby.
Gerald Laing returned to pop painting in 2004 with a politically motivated body of work criticizing the Iraq War. As a former army officer, Laing was particularly troubled by the atrocities committed by army personnel against prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison. Laing’s indignation led him to reclaim the visual language of Pop; this time for protest.
Laing continued to paint in his later years, returning to the theme of celebrity and media culture with studies by Kate Moss, Victoria Beckham, and Amy Winehouse.
Gerald Laing was represented by the Fine Art Society from the 1990s until his death in 2011 and the gallery held exhibitions of his work in 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2008. Director Gordon Cooke commented: “The gallery is here great place to celebrate Laing’s incredible work. body of work. The Fine Art Society was proud to represent him from the 1990s until his death and organized four major exhibitions during his life.
Today, Laing’s work can be found in public and private collections around the world, including the Tate, the V&A, the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery in London; and the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum in New York and the Smithsonian Institution.