Gerald Laing Honoured With First Posthumous Retrospective At Fine Arts Society

Gerald Laing

The first posthumous exhibition of the leading British Pop artist and sculptor Gerald Laing (1936 – 2011) has opened at The Fine Art Society in London on the fifth anniversary of his death. The exhibition features over 70 paintings and sculptures, including many 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 to define the visual language of the Sixties, producing some of the most significant works of the movement 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’s exhibition reflects all phases of Gerald Laing’s career starting from the early Pop paintings he produced while he was still a student at St Martins School of Art in London including the monumental portrait of French film star and wife of film director Jean-Luc Godard, Anna Karina.

After moving to New York in 1964, Laing was quickly integrated into the American counterpart of the movement, 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 film stars, capturing the excitement and exuberance of America in the Sixties. 

Disillusioned with the capitalist values of the Pop genre by the mid Sixties, Laing made a radical departure into sculpture, first producing abstract minimalist sculpture and later, after moving to rural Scotland, figurative bronzes. Based at the 16th-century Kinkell Castle in the Scottish Highlands, which he purchased and restored from dereliction, Laing devoted his energies exclusively to sculpture for the next three decades. He taught himself to cast 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 body of politically motivated work criticising the Iraq War. As a former army officer Laing was particularly disturbed by the atrocities committed by army personnel against prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison. Laing’s outrage led him to reclaim the visual language of Pop; this time for the purpose of protest. 

Laing continued to paint into his later years, returning to the theme of celebrity and media culture with studies of 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 the perfect place to celebrate Laing’s incredible body of work. The Fine Art Society were proud to represent him from the 1990’s until his death and held four major exhibitions during his lifetime.”

Today, Laing’s work is in public and private collections around the world, including at 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, and the Smithsonian Institution.


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