PAULINE BOTY (1938-1966)
PAULINE BOTY (1938-1966)
PAULINE BOTY (1938-1966)
PAULINE BOTY (1938-1966)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF KENNETH TYNAN
PAULINE BOTY (1938-1966)

BUM

Details
PAULINE BOTY (1938-1966)
BUM
pencil, ink, watercolour, gouache and collage on paper
19 5/8 x 16 in. (50 x 40.6 cm.)
Executed in 1966.
Provenance
A gift from the artist to Kenneth Tynan, and by descent.
Exhibited
London, Gazelli Art House, Silver Lining, March - April 2019, exhibition not numbered.
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Angus Granlund
Angus Granlund Director, Head of Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Gifted by the artist to Kenneth Tynan in 1966, the present work has remained in his family ever since. Unprecedented in Boty’s limited body of work, this collage is the only known study for a major painting and provides a tantalising insight into her working methods. Executed in the same vibrant colours as the oil painting (sold Christie’s London, 22 November 2017, lot 4), the layers of collage reveal the complexity behind this playful composition.
Pauline Boty (1938-66), one of the founders of British Pop Art, was a talented, ambitious and well educated artist. She was also a beautiful, vivacious woman who embraced a ‘pop’ identity on the ‘swinging London’ scene. She studied at the Royal College of Art, the seedbed of the movement, where she met, befriended and went on to exhibit with Sir Peter Blake, Derek Boshier, David Hockney, Peter Phillips and Patrick Caulfield. In 1961, she exhibited along with Blake and two others at the A.I.A. Gallery in a group show seen as the very first Pop Art. The following year she featured with Blake, Boshier and Phillips in Ken Russell’s Pop Goes the Easel – the innovative film for Monitor, the BBC’s prestigious arts programme, a bench mark for British Pop.
We are very grateful to Dr Sue Tate, author of Pauline Boty: Pop Artist and Woman, Wolverhampton, 2013, for her assistance preparing this catalogue entry.
In a male dominated genre, Boty brought a female sensibility and perspective that enriches Pop. Refusing the expectation for ‘detachment’ laid on the young male artist, she always stressed the affirmative quality of the shared experience that popular culture offered. She produced a vibrant body of Pop Art collages and paintings that were exhibited in key Pop shows and a solo exhibition. Iconographically she was responsive to both popular culture and the radical new left politics that was newly emerging. Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, The Beatles, The Everly Brothers and film stars rub shoulders with JFK, Fidel Castro and Lenin. Stylistically her work displays typically ‘Pop’ features: fairground lettering, intense colour and the use of found imagery. Collecting, collating and synthesising mass culture imagery from newspapers, ads and magazines was central to her practice. She was celebrated for her wonderful walls of images (featured in Pop Goes the Easel) and her early collages have an elegance and wit with a Surreal and slightly threatening undertone. She developed this sensitivity to mass produced imagery in her paintings.
'Our fears, hopes, frustrations and dreams … we can pin them on a star who shows them to millions, and if we can do that we’re no longer alone' Pauline Boty
As a serious artist Boty also claimed her right to an autonomous sexuality and her paintings celebrate the subjective pleasures (including the erotic) that women did and do find in popular culture. 5-4-3-2-1, 1963 (private collection) gives form to the excitement of dancing to pop music and the sexual anticipation that it brought: ‘Oh for A FU…’ declares a banner on the right of the painting. She identified fiercely with Marilyn Monroe, that ultimate symbol of sexuality for men. In The Only Blonde in the World, 1963 (Tate, London) she reproduces a black and white PR photo licking it into imaginative life with strokes of pink in the legs, yellow in the hair and in Colour Her Gone, 1962 (Wolverhampton Art Gallery) she mourns Marilyn’s passing. She also turned her desiring gaze on objects of her own desire; in With Love to Jean Paul Belmondo, 1962 (private collection) the image of the New Wave film star, taken from a photo by Don McCullin, is set below jaunty red and green Pop Art hearts and crowned with a gloriously oversized and quivering red rose – Boty’s symbol for female sexuality and desire.
BUM, a splendid and mature work, was Boty’s very last painting and painted after a diagnosis for cancer that ended her life so prematurely, aged only 28 in 1966. In the face of death, it is a wonderfully vibrant piece painted in colours straight from the tube. Commissioned by Kenneth Tynan for his notorious, erotic cabaret Oh! Calcutta! it places her, to the very end, at the cutting edge of the 60s zeitgeist. The title is a play on the French ‘O, quel cul tu as’ (‘O, what an arse you have’) and in a letter to the impresario, William Donaldson, Tynan outlined a gamut of ideas for the show, one of which was 'a pop art ballet designed by Pauline Boty, based on paintings that focus on the principal erogenous zones'. BUM, intended as the first of a series, took its cue from the punning title. Within a precisely executed proscenium arch the female bottom is exquisitely and sensuously painted, the flesh has a bloom like a peach and the work could be read as a sensuous celebration of life. Yet the meaning is surely more ambiguous. We have a reified body part, set above the demotic title, BUM, rawly proclaimed in chunky san-serif lettering and revealed ‘on stage’ inviting perhaps a slap or a caning as much as a caress. Certainly, any simple celebration of sexual pleasure has been superseded by something more complex and interesting.

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