Gerald Laing was one of the leading British artists of his generation. He shot to fame as a student at Saint Martin’s School of Art in the early 1960s and spent most of the decade working in New York, where he met Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jim Rosenquist, and Robert Indiana. His paintings of film stars, dragsters, and other icons of popular culture place him as a major figure in both the British and American Pop art movements.
Gerald Laing (seated) pictured in 1962 with Joe Tilson, Frances Moreland, Peter Phillips, Peter Blake, Dereck Boshier, Allen Jones and David Hockney
In the late sixties his work became more abstract and sculptural, reflecting the ‘cool’ style that was coming to dominate the New York art scene. A move to the highlands of Scotland in 1969 inspired the use of more substantial forms and rugged materials. In 1973 Laing abandoned pure abstraction and began modelling in clay and casting in bronze, becoming one of the country’s leading figurative sculptors. In 2003 he returned to painting with his searing Iraq War series and images of twenty first century icons such as Amy Winehouse.
Laing’s abstract sculpture from 1965–1973 was evolved directly from his paintings, using the techniques and materials of car customisation – lacquering, spray painting, and chrome painting on metal. The move from New York to the Highlands of Scotland in 1970 saw Laing’s sculpture respond to the beauty, roughness and power of the surrounding landscape.
Grenadier (1968) which is made from lacquered aluminium and chrome on brass, and was first exhibited at the eponymous Richard Feigen Gallery, New York, is a characteristic example of the clean minimalist lines that Laing became so well known for during the period, and directly echoes the work of abstract artists Frank Stella and Ellsworth Kelly. Three years earlier, proof of the critical success Laing was experiencing and his burgeoning reputation was cemented by the display of three abstract sculptures in the Primary Structures exhibition at the Jewish Museum, New York, 1965.
Further success that decade included group exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1967-8; and Whitney Museum of American Art, 1968–9.
Today Laing’s work is held in museums around the world, including: The National Gallery, London; Tate Gallery, London; The National Portrait Gallery, London; The Victoria and Albert Museum, London; The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Whitney Museum, New York; The Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC; The Minneapolis Institute of Art; The Indianapolis Museum; The Denver Museum.
Barye, Antoine Louis
Derwent Wood, Francis
Epstein, Sir Jacob
Fix-Masseau, Pierre Félix
Frampton, Sir George
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George Frederick Watts & Thomas Wren
Gilbert, Sir Alfred
Leighton, Frederic Lord
Mackennal, Sir Edgar Bertram
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Reid Dick, Sir William
Rodin and Carrier-Belleuse
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Rodin and Claudel
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Thornycroft, Sir William Hamo
Walker, Arthur George
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