Pauline Boty

19381966 | London, United Kingdom
Pauline Boty — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

© Photo: Geoffrey Reeve / Bridgeman Images

British painter.

Pauline Boty attended the Wimbledon College of Arts in London after winning a scholarship in 1954 despite her father’s disapproval. In second year, she joined the stained-glass department directed by Charles Carey, who encouraged her to explore the field of Pop art. On the occasion of her second participation in the Young Contemporaries show in 1959, she became close to other emerging artists from the movement, among them David Hockney (born in 1937), Peter Phillips (born in 1939) and Peter Blake (born in 1932). From the early 1960s she developed a style of Pop art that made use of pictures of celebrities, particularly large depictions of playful and sensual female figures, but also of political events such as the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the Vietnam War.

In 1961 she presented a series of twenty collages at the exhibition Blake, Boty, Porter, Reeve at the AIA Gallery in London, which is often considered to be one of the first Pop art events. In his documentary Pop Goes the Easel (1962), Ken Russell places P. Boty at the centre of the movement, although, unlike her male counterparts in the film – P. Blake, P. Phillips and Derek Boshier (born in 1937) – she is never asked to speak about her work. This also marked the beginning of her brief acting career. Her first solo exhibition was held in 1963 at the Grabowski Gallery in London, where she showed her famous series The Only Blonde in the World (1963).

That same year, she married the literary agent Clive Goodwin, and their flat became a central meeting place for the avant-garde. Two years later she was diagnosed with leukaemia during her pregnancy. She refused treatment in order to protect the baby and subsequently died at the age of twenty-eight.
P. Boty saw Pop art as “nostalgia for now”. She was one of the very few women to make a name for herself in the British Pop art movement. After her death her work was largely forgotten until it was rediscovered in the 1990s and shown on the occasion of a retrospective exhibition at the Wolverhampton Art Gallery in 2013.

Mathilde de Croix

Translated from French by Lucy Pons.

Publication made in partnership with the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain of Nice, in the framework of the exhibition She-Bam Pow POP Wizz! The Amazons of the POP (1961-1973).

© Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions

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