Pauline Boty here painted the author and artist Derek Marlowe in black and white, posed in a way that was popular among celebrity photographers of the time. He holds a cigarette between his fingers, and looks out at the viewer in a calm and confident manner. Boty contrasts her male sitter with the faces of four ‘unknown ladies’, used as a decorative border. Painted in bright colours, with crude brushstrokes and exaggerated facial expressions, the differences between the women and Marlowe are stark, and typical of Boty’s Pop Art works of the time, in which she criticised the power imbalance between images of men and women in popular culture.
Portrait of Derek Marlowe with Unknown Ladies
FSC Certified paper and wood
Original: Oil paint on canvas 122.2 × 122.4 cm Tate. Purchased with funds provided by the Denise Coates Foundation on the occasion of the 2018 centenary of women gaining the right to vote in Britain 2018 © The estate of Pauline Boty
Pauline Boty (1938 – 1966) was a British painter and co-founder of the 1960s' British Pop art movement. After studying at Wimbledon College of Art and the Royal College of Art, she developed a distinctive Pop Art style, and her paintings and collages explored themes of celebrity, politics, sexism, the patriarchy and female sexuality. She also had a successful career as an actress and broadcaster, but painting remained her priority, and her exhibitions were well received by critics, including her 1963 solo exhibition at Grabowski Gallery, Chelsea. Boty died of cancer aged 28, but the 1990s brought a renewed interest in the importance of her work, some of which is held in Tate’s collection.