Pauline Boty
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Pauline Boty

photo by lewis morley
Lately I've been inspired by a pop artist called Pauline Boty. She was heavily involved in the sixties British pop art movement and was known for being one of the first proto-feminist icons of the sixties. She often made collages of pop culture icons but her most famous works deal with feminism and female sexuality. 
I noticed Pauline Boty in a documentary on British pop art called Pop Goes the Easel which followed four young pop artists (Pauline Boty, Peter Blake, Derek Boshier and Peter Phillips) around London. The documentary is a pretty good insight into sixties London. I absolutely loved the dance scene at the end of  the film of mods and beatniks twisting at a London club. Pauline Boty was a great socialite and free spirit. Her home in Shepherds Bush was the meeting place for students, artists and eccentrics. She was known for having the Monroe-esque quality of being both alluring and vulnerable. It was often thought that she was a Brigitte Bardot look-alike but I think she looks more like a blonde Anna Karina. She was described by the writer Joe Massot as having "marvellous strawberry ice cream and leonine hair" 

In the years before the feminist art movement she struggled to get her work taken seriously "women painters like myself felt very alienated, the full feminist movement hadn't come in and we worked in isolated pools, mostly of depression" Boty was a self-assured women and was admired by her fellow artist Peter Blake as being the first woman in London to wear men's 501s. She also described herself as being the secretary of the Anti-Ugly Action in which she and her fellow activists scattered rose petals over the new Barclay's Bank as a protest against unattractive architecture. Unfortunately her life came to a tragically short end. She died from leukaemia in 1966 (aged 28) leaving behind her baby daughter and a small but inspiring body of work.

Screencap from Ken Russell's Pop Goes The Easel

1 comment

  1. Wow, I've never heard of her before but she seems really interesting. I'll be looking into her.