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Boty: The Life and Times of a Forgotten Artist

Pauline Boty (1938-1966) is one of the most important British artists of the 20th Century — a trailblazer in Pop Art and the burgeoning feminism movement of the 1960’s.

Within her art she analysed, subverted and skewered pop culture and major political events, while questioning the established roles of women in mass culture. Included within her paintings and collages are many of the most famous people and events of that time, such as Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Christine Keeler, the JFK assassination and the Cuba crisis, amongst many others.

Asked why she did this, Boty replied that is because Pop Art is ‘Nostalgia for now…’

Tragically, Boty’s life was cut short at the age of 28 after she was diagnosed with cancer soon after becoming pregnant. Instead of receiving potentially life-saving treatment, Boty chose to keep her baby and died 5 months after her daughter was born.

For the next 25+ years, Boty’s contributions to British Pop, early feminism and 1960’s London were nearly forgotten. Her paintings were locked away at her brother’s farm in Kent.

Only in the 1990s, thanks to the work of art historians such as David Alan Mellor and Dr. Sue Tate, did the art world start to properly appreciate Boty’s contributions to the British Pop movement and how she sought to change the way women are perceived in society.

Boty’s art stands shoulder to shoulder with any produced in London from 1960-1966, and for that reason alone a brighter light should be shone on to the story of her short life and magnificent art. If ever there was a case of ‘what might have been’ it can be applied to the painter Pauline Boty. Now is the right time for her full story to be told.

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