Gerald Laing U.K., 1936-2011
"It was during that summer (1963) in New York…that I first identified the four major themes which were to preoccupy me for the next three years: Dragsters, Skydivers, Astronauts and Starlets"
Gerald Laing was one of the leading British Pop artists of his generation. He rose to fame as a student at Saint Martin's School of Art in the early 1960s and spent most of the decade working in New York. His paintings of film stars, dragsters, and other icons of popular culture place him as a major figure in both the British and American Pop art movements.
Similar to the US pop artist Andy Warhol, Laing was deeply inspired by images from popular culture, mass produced media and advertisements. His earlier works often feature young girls in bikinis in provocative poses capturing the energy of the 1960s or famous models or movie stars such as Bridget Bardot. He often appropriated images from newspapers or magazines, simplifying them, adding black dots (as a parody of cheap printing methods) and articulated them with bold flat plains of saturated colour. Laing then turned to imagery of skydivers and astronauts as the subjects of his prints.
In the late sixties his work became more abstract and sculptural, reflecting the 'cool' style that was coming to dominate the New York art scene. A move to the highlands of Scotland in 1969 inspired the use of more substantial forms and rugged materials. In 1973 Laing abandoned pure abstraction and began modelling in clay and casting in bronze, becoming one of the country's leading figurative sculptors. In 2003 he returned to painting with his searing Iraq War series and images of twenty first century icons such as Amy Winehouse.
Laing's works are held in many public and private collections worldwide including the Tate, the V&A, the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery in London and in the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum, New York.