Pauline Boty (1938 – 1966) was a leading figure in the pop art movement of the 1960s. But she died aged just 28, and her art was largely overlooked after her death.
She studied at the Royal College of Art where she became friends with other emerging Pop artists, such as Derek Boshier, David Hockney, Peter Phillips and Peter Blake, who inspired and supported her.
She studied stained glass but preferred the paintings and collages she worked on at home, cutting images from adverts, magazines and art catalogues.
The embodiment of the swinging ’60s, Boty was a dancer on Ready Steady Go!, played one of Michael Caine’s girlfriends in the film Alfie and acted on TV and on stage at the Royal Court. Boty was one of four pop artists, with Derek Boshier, Peter Blake and Peter Philips featured in Ken Russell’s landmark 1962 film Pop Goes the Easel, but her looks and image meant she struggled to be taken seriously.
In 1965 Boty became pregnant and was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer during a pre-natal examination. She declined chemotherapy because she feared it may harm her baby. Boty died in 1966, just five months after giving birth. Her family stored her art in a barn after her death, but works like Count Down to Violence (1964) have been rediscovered by the art world in recent years. David Mellor exhibited Boty’s work in his important show on the 60s at the Barbican in 1993 and again in a joined Anglo-French exhibition, held in Brighton in 1997. Major retrospective exhibitions were held at Whitford Fine Art and Mayor Gallery, London, in 1998 and at Wolverhampton Art Gallery in 2013.