Pauline Boty was the only female founder of British Pop Art and an icon of 1970s feminism. She worked closely with Sir David Hockney and Sir Peter Blake, alongside other Pop artists. Sworders are pleased to present a drawing by Boty, lot 136 in our Modern & Contemporary Art auction to be held on Tuesday 5 April 2022
18 March 2022
Reclining with ease, Boty captures her husband Clive Goodwin in a moment of sleepy repose. The intimacy of the composition is primarily created through the simplicity of the line, which captures the figure with such confidence it speaks of familiarity. Moreover, the drawing’s cropped focus and its unusual angle of looking up Clive’s nostrils adds a playful and loving air to the piece.
Boty draws with a quick and assured line that identifies shapes within the scene, the jumper, belt, nostrils, lips and striped wallpaper in the background are all outlined. This technique of capturing form through simple line is reminiscent of the bold forms found in British Pop Art.
Boty was born in South London in 1938, she was the youngest of four children and grew up in a conservative Catholic family. In 1954, she won a scholarship to Wimbledon School of Art, which she accepted with the support of her mother (whose artistic ambitions had been thwarted by her parents).
Boty studied lithography and stained-glass making, but also painted in a distinctive style. She exhibited with the Young Contemporaries alongside Robyn Denny and Bridget Riley in both 1957 and 1959. Her developing friendships with Pop artists such as Hockney and Blake drew her further into this circle, and in 1961, she participated in a group show titled ‘Blake, Boty, Porter, Reeve’. Just two years later, she had her first solo show at the Grabowski Gallery, which was received with acclaim. After a brief stint in acting and on radio, Boty returned to painting. Her work became increasingly political with anti-Vietnam War and anti-patriarchy themes emerging.
After a whirlwind romance, she married Clive Goodwin in 1963, which is the same year this drawing was undertaken. Boty became pregnant with their first child in 1965, but early into the pregnancy, doctors discovered a cancerous tumour. Knowing that treatment would damage the foetus, Boty chose not to pursue this and she died aged just twenty-eight, only five months after the birth of her daughter.
In 2013, Boty received her first retrospective at the Wolverhampton Art Gallery; later travelled to Pallant House Gallery.
Our auction of Modern & Contemporary Art commences at 10 am on Tuesday 5 April.
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