The Major Periods

1962 – 1965: Early Pop Paintings

As one of the original wave of Pop artists Gerald Laing produced some of the most significant works of the British Pop movement. His paintings reproduced images of popular heroes such as starlets, film stars, drag racers, astronauts and skydivers. His 1962 portrait of Brigitte Bardot is an iconic work of the period and regularly features in major Pop retrospectives alongside Lincoln Convertible from 1964, a commemoration of the assassination of JFK.

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1965 – 1970: Utopian Abstract Sculpture

From 1965 Gerald Laing's painting evolved into abstract sculptures using the techniques and materials of car customisation - lacquering, spray-painting and chrome-plating on metal.

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1970 – 1973: Sculpture In The Landscape

A move from New York to the Highlands of Scotland in 1970 saw Gerald Laing's sculpture respond to the beauty, roughness and power of the surrounding landscape.

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1972 – 2010: Public Sculpture

Public sculptures include the the Bank Station Dragons; the Rugby Sculptures at Twickenham Stadium; the Cricketer at Lords; the Highland Clearances Memorial in Helmsdale, Sutherland and Axis Mundi in Edinburgh.

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1973 – 1980: Galina Series

Inspired by the figurative sculpture of the First World War Artillery Memorial at Hyde Park Corner, in 1973 Gerald Laing began to model in clay and cast in bronze. The Galina Series and associated sculptures were his first works from this period.

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1982 – 2007: Portrait Heads

Gerald Laing's portrait work includes heads and reliefs of Luciano Pavarotti, Andy Warhol, Paul Getty and Sam Wanamaker.

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2002 – 2005: War Paintings

The Iraq war and the publication of images of torture at Abu Ghraib prison drew Gerald Laing back to painting for the first time in over three decades. The War Paintings series sees the starlets and all-American heroes of his early paintings take on new, more sinister roles.

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2004 – 2011: New Paintings

Returning to the style and subject matter of his early pop art paintings, Gerald Laing's latest paintings feature media images of contemporary celebrities including Amy Winehouse and Kate Moss.

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Search the Catalogue

Cr017 fourincidents bwp2 ep rgb

Four Events in the Experience of an Astronaut

Catalogue No. 20

Artist's CR 017


New York

Oil on canvas

48 x 40 inches / 122 x 102 cm

Collection: Private collection

The repeated image owes something to advertising techniques, but more to the traditional device of placing the hero in several different positions in one panel which was common both in Eastern and in Mediæval European painting. This device naturally implies that the painting is dealing with a series of events which take place over a given elapsed time, rather than with one particular moment. In Four Events… I was interested in the small changes in position and expression in the four portraits, representing four different, arbitrarily seized moments.
The quartering of the canvas is a deliberately heraldic device which in fact flies in the face of classical concepts of composition.

The use of silver is evocative of the silvery, moonlight quality one associates with extra-terrestrial events, and the slight alteration on tone in the four quarters imply slightly different photographic conditions during the four ‘moments’ which go hand in hand with the differences in the subject.

'Aspen Notebook', Gerald Laing, unpublished manuscript, 1966

The first image which prompted my series of Astronaut paintings… showed Alan Shepard in his capsule in a group of four slightly blurred time-lapsed photographs, the blurring adding to the mysterious quality of his activities. I painted all four images in one painting, using black and silver paint, extending the time span of the image across the sequence of events depicted. I gave this painting to Robert Indiana, and painted a portrait of him as well, using the same system… Alan Shepard is shown at four different moments during his journey into space, just as in a religious painting Jesus might be shown performing miracles, riding into Jerusalem, facing Pontius Pilate, being crucified and ascending into heaven.

'Gerald Laing: An Autobiography', Gerald Laing, unpublished manuscript, 2011, ch.13