Britain’s ‘First Lady’ of Pop Art back in Pick Of the Pops exhibition as Painted Ladies appear

Poster girl – Colour Her Gone (1962) by Pauline Boty – is used to publicise Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s Pick of the Pops exhibition – on from now until September

Wolverhampton Art Gallery has pulled out some of its gems with current exhibitions.

In Pick of the Pops one of more than 20 pieces of work on display on the ground floor of the gallery is Colour Her Gone (1962) by Pauline Boty.

It was bought for the Lichfield Street gallery with help from the Art Fund and the Friends of Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Museums and forms part of the largest Pop Art collection in the UK outside of London.

In addition to the work by Boty there are pieces by Andy Warhol – including a print of his famous soup painting – and Richard Hamilton and Roy Lichtenstein.

Lichtenstein’ Purist Painting with Bottles is one which visitors can vote for – as well as any of the others to see which they think if ‘Pick of the Pops’.

The voting closes on Friday 30 August at 4.30pm and the winner will be announced in September.

More work involving women features in The Painted Ladies exhibition upstairs – which again runs until September.

This involves a collaboration between the Wolverhampton Gallery and the University of Birmingham.

Although not thought to be one of the ‘top artists’ my favourite is Dorette “Doggie” Outlaw – and not just for her wonderful name!

She combined her role as art mistress at the Wolverhampton Municipal Grammar School (now the Newhampton Arts Centre, Newhampton Road/Dunkley Street, Whitmore Reans) with scooping up young artistic talent throughout Wolverhampton and helping them with scholarships to hone their at the city’s art school.

Self-portrait by Dorette “Doggie” Outlaw at Wolverhampton Art Gallery

Her work is also represented in the exhibition, curated by Rafaela Thiraiou, an MA student in Art History and Curating, with Bathers from 1963.

Bathers by Dorette “Doggie” Outlaw in the Painted Ladies exhibition

Her work joins that by Emma Bolland and Alfred Everton Cooper among other works including paintings and sculptures from the 20th century.

People can give their views on how women are represented in art at the exhibition.

One of Dorette Outlaw’s successes – Albert Pountney – who became head of the school of art at Leicester Polytechnic after she persuaded him to go to art school

Pauline Boty is another of my favourites still – nearly six years after the art gallery had and exhibition devoted to her work.

The Pauline Boty exhibition at Wolverhampton Art Gallery Boty 2013 exhibition at the gallery

It was first public exhibition to tackle the whole, but very short, career of Britain’s ‘First Lady’ of Pop Art. Pauline Boty: Pop Artist and Woman was launched by Zoe Lippett, Exhibitions and Artists’ Projects Curator at The New Art Gallery, Walsall,  and Dr Sue Tate.

They led the way through a short but prolific career of an artist who died at the age of 28 in 1966. Her death from cancer came after refusing chemotherapy over worries for the baby she was carrying.

She died four months after daughter, Katy, was born. Her paintings were stored in a barn owned by one of her brothers.

The exhibition was developed with the artist’s family, Whitford Fine Art and the Mayor Gallery, London and from her work with collage and stained glass tracked her starting out at Wimbledon Art College and graduating to the Royal College of Art (RCA) – where she found herself with 90 per cent of the staff male and not many of them sympathetic to Pop Art.

Boty, who had soaked up Modernism, Cubism and Cezanne stalled and lost confidence at the RCA but blossomed after that. She also kept going with collage and transferring to stained glass.

Picking up on Pop Art, she was not cool and detached but immersed herself in mass culture and pop – identifying closely with Marilyn Monroe.

She said: “Film stars are the 20th century Gods and Goddesses. People need them and the myths that surround them because their own lives are enriched by them. Pop Art colours these.”

Colour Her Gone (1962) – was based on a Town magazine image of Marilyn and was her response to Marilyn’s death – which hit her hard.

Colour Me Gone, Pauline Boty's tribute to Marilyn Monroe© Artist's Estate Colour Me Gone, Pauline Boty’s tribute to Marilyn Monroe © Artist’s

It is displayed alongside another image of Marilyn on the set of the film ‘Some Like It Hot’ which was acquired by The Tate Gallery.

The Only Blonde in the world...from an image of Marilyn Monroe on the set of Some Like It Hot The Only Blonde in the world…from an image of Marilyn Monroe on the set of Some Like It Hot

Her work is very much that of the fan – not cool and detached – and all the easier to warm to for that. Pop songs pop up in pieces such as My Colouring Book and 5,4,3,2,1 from the Manfred Mann song.

She was also a dancer who was credited as such when she danced during the first showing of the TV pop programme Ready Steady Go. Boty was also a film and TV actress, playing one of Michael Caine’s girlfriends in the film Alfie, working in TV drama, on stage at the Royal Court and presenting a BBC radio arts review.

She may well have gone on to making films. French New Wave Cinema star Jean Paul Belmondo appears in one work as an object of desire.

As well as New Wave cinema she also reflected and was involved in New Left politics as show her work illustrating what happened in Cuba and the missiles crisis that unfolded there as well as exploring male, mostly US, political violence.

The media tended to treat her as a pretty woman and she was very striking, going up against Julie Christie for the lead role in the film Darling.

Pauline Boty Pauline Boty

She responds with images of women drawn from soft porn and life classes arranged collage-style. High and low culture are blended and juxtaposed in her work and period magazines, photographs and ephemera are included in the exhibition.

Dr Tate produced a book Pauline Boty: Pop Artist and Woman to accompany the exhibition and to cast light on an artist largely forgotten until recent times.

She pointed out that in one Pop Art exhibition out of 202 works only one was by a woman – despite there being numerous other women Pop Artists

The exhibition came half a century after a sex scandal rocked the political establishment. Andrew Lloyd Webber created music for the musical – Stephen Ward – about one of the key figures who killed himself during the legal aftermath of  the 1963 Profumo affair which saw the resignation and disgrace of the Tory Minister for War.

Another key figure – Christine Keeler – was the subject of a work by Pauline – Scandal 63. What happened to the painting is still a mystery.

Lewis Morley's picture of Christine Keeler The picture of Christine Keeler

The painting draws on the famous photograph which was taken by Lewis Morley of  Christine Keeler, which shows her apparently nakcd, with hands cupped beneath her chin astride a chair.

At the top of the painting executed by Boty the men in the affair appear.

Pauline Boty with the missing Christine Keeler picture Pauline Boty with the missing Christine Keeler picture

It was last seen in the year it was painted. Boty helped showed then unknown US singer/songwriter Bob Dylan around London in the bitterly cold winter of 1962-63.

He had left the United States for the first time to appear in a BBC TV drama which Boty’s then partner was heavily involved in producing.


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