Pauline Boty (1938 –1966) was a founding member of the British Pop Art movement and one of its very few women. She attended London’s Royal College of Art at a watershed moment when its students included David Hockney,Peter Blake, R.B. Kitaj and Allen Jones. Dying tragically young at the age of 28, she is now seen as central to British Pop Art and an icon of Sixties culture.
As well as her work as an artist, she appeared on the stage, TV and in film (including alongside Michael Caine in Alfie) and was a regular contributor on BBC radio. She was photographed by David Bailey and other society photographers and became a key player in 1960s London’s golden age.
Outspoken, provocative and charismatic, she refused to accept the oppositions between sexual woman and serious artist, between celebration and critique, between high and low culture. Observer and participant, feminist and hedonist, subject and object, Boty’s ‘double vision’ was decades ahead of its time, and prefigured a diversity of artists—everyone from Cindy Sherman to Madonna.
Having been largely forgotten after her death, her reputation has been growing steadily since the rediscovery and exhibition of her works in the early 1990s. As well as cropping up regularly in various books, documentaries and newspaper articles since then, she features as a central character in Ali Smith’s novel Autumn (2016) and one of her works sold for $1.4m at auction in June 2022.
After seeing her work at an auction in 2013, author Marc Kristal has spent almost ten years researching her life, interviewing the people who knew her and delving into archives and libraries. This is the definitive biography of her life and work, appealing to both those interested in art but in this creative period of British culture.