Biography of Gerald Laing
Gerald Laing was a British Pop artist and sculptor who aligned himself with the American Pop Art movement in the late 1960s. Throughout his career, he frequently changed his style, devoting over 40 years to Minimalist sculpture and representational sculpture before going back to his Pop Art roots in his later life. He returned to painting in 2003, creating a series of works that reflected on the Iraq War and depicted stars such as Amy Winehouse as a comment on the growth of celebrity culture. Gerald Laing is particularly recognized for his paintings of film stars, dragsters and other icons of popular culture.
Born in Newcastle in 1936, Gerald Laing grew up during World War II and as a young boy experienced the horrors of events such as the Battle of Britain. He attended the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst and served as a Lieutenant in Ireland and Germany. After realizing that the military was not his calling, he enrolled at Saint Martin’s School of Art. In 1963, his painting Brigitte Bardot (1963) was included in Young Contemporaries 63, an exhibition at the Royal Society of British Artists’ Galleries in London. While still at Saint Martins, Gerald Laing traveled to New York where he was introduced to artists such as Andy Warhol, James Rosenquist, and Roy Lichtenstein, and spent a summer working for Robert Indiana. Upon completing school, he moved permanently to New York in 1964 where his career truly began to take off. He moved to the Scottish Highlands in 1969 which inspired a more minimalist and rugged use of material.
Gerald Laing died in 2011 but the significance of him as an artist has outlived him and his works have been included in nearly every major survey of British Pop Art. Exhibitions of his work have been held at the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg in Germany, Tate Britain in London, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh and the Menil Collection in Houston. His works can be found in the collections of the Tate Modern, London; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Denver Art Museum; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others.