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

Cr129 freestandingtrace gc bwp clean cutout

Freestanding Trace

Catalogue No. 137

Artist's CR 129

June, 1966

New York

Acrylic on aluminium and chrome on brass, Plexiglas base

96 x 30 x15 inches / 244 x 76 x38 cm

Collection: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • Collection of John and Kimiko Powers
  • Collection of Massachusetts Institute of Technology

In Laing’s art the intellectual path towards an aesthetic of efficiency runs parallel with that one on the wayside of which he has abandoned all the symbolic elements of his earlier paintings. His sculptures often retain the suggestion of a skydiver’s free-fall but instead of translating this figuratively he now presents ’free-fall’ defined and abstracted. Emotional response is not provoked by the formally inventive enactment of an exciting event; instead, that pictorial enactment is distilled into clear concepts. This can become a very tricky undertaking especially since his desire for autonomous balance can only decrease the human values of his former figurative expression. Now he is even discarding the ‘wavy line’ of Freestanding Trace that first appeared as the billowing folds of the skydivers’ parachutes and was then incorporated into the sculptures. He refuses to allow himself any unfinished surfaces, fuzzy edges or protruding bolts that might otherwise elicit our empathy as it does in less obviously calculated abstract sculpture. By denying himself such emotive outlets which, at their worst, we are apt to call excuses for bad workmanship, he provokes the jaded mind to wonder what can be his excuse for good workmanship. The answer must be in part that precision, like efficiency, can be treated as an aesthetic per se. In terms of the application of precision a structure such as Pink virtually opens and closes the argument as to whether precision is important inasmuch as it effects [sic] the immediacy of our perception.

Nuove Tecniche D'Immagine, Michael Findlay, exhibition catalogue, Palazzo dei Congressi, San Marino, 1967