1936 - 2011
As one of the original wave of Pop artists Gerald Laing produced some of the most significant works of the British Pop movement. In London during the early 60s he pioneered the painting of enormous canvases based on newspaper photographs of models, astronauts and film stars. His 1962 portrait of Brigitte Bardot is an iconic work of the period and regularly features in major Pop retrospectives alongside Lincoln Convertible from 1964, a commemoration of the assassination of JFK.
After a period living and working in New York he returned to the Highlands of Scotland in 1969 to concentrate on sculptural work. Initially exploring abstraction and sculpture in the landscape, he moved on to figurative sculpture with the Galina series. High profile public commissions during this period included the Twickenham Stadium figures and the bronze bas-relief twin dragons at the exits of London's Bank station. His portrait work included heads of Luciano Pavarotti, Paul Getty, Sam Wanamaker (at the Globe Theatre) and Andy Warhol.
When the Abu Ghraib prison torture photographs began to appear in the press in 2003, Laing, a former British army officer, saw that his 60s starlets and all-American heroes had somehow become the perpetrators of horrific war crimes. This prompted him to return to a version of his early style depicting these one-time heroes of the American Dream in a grimmer contemporary light with the War Paintings series. His return to painting also saw a return to the contemporary media images that inspired his early work, with new paintings depicting Amy Winehouse, Kate Moss and Victoria Beckham.