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

Cr032 panoply ingramcollection


CR 032

London/New York


Oil on cellulose paint on irregular, shaped canvas

66 x 44 (irregular) inches

Citations and Comments

In the earliest days of space exploration, beginning with the Russian Yuri Gagarin’s first orbit of the earth in Sputnik I, followed in short order by the American Gordon Cooper’s twenty-two orbits, the general public followed each new event with an avidity which no longer exits.

The technology, from the giant rockets, capsules and launch sites to the spectacular space suits with their air-conditioning equipment attaching each astronaut to a small suitcase by a convoluted umbilical cord, and such arcane items as zero inertia tools for use in weightless conditions, were frequently illustrated in the press.

My painting, Panoply, reflects these obsessions. I depicted the astronauts – who were possibly our last hero explorers - as though they were knights displayed on a medieval brass memorial, with the NASA badge as their coat-of-arms, and the shaped canvas parallelogram as their banner of flames.

All of this is in contrast to today’s attitudes. We have no clear general idea of what equipment or how many men are in space at any given time. Perhaps this is because to the average person space is now simply empty, but for cluttered inanimate debris.

Gerald Laing, 'Notes on Panoply', unpublished manuscript, 2005

Laing is unusual amongst British pop artists in that having moved to New York in 1964, almost all his pop work was produced in an American rather than British context. His initial imagery, which drew on newspaper representation of movie stars, developed into work based around the issues of perception of glamour in roles such as drag racers, astronauts and skydivers. The images are highly stylized and provide an interesting complement to the contemporary work of Peter Phillips with whom Laing collaborated on Hybrid, a project where the resultant work was dictated by the demands of consumers.

The shaped multi-part canvases (similar to the contemporary experiments of Hockney and Jones) allowed for divisions of the imagery and here we see the duplicated NASA astronaut given a sense of speed by the stylized flames more commonly seen on drag-racers and custom cars.

Signed, inscribed with title and LONDON - NYC and dated 1964–1969 on the reverse.

Sotheby's, London,">20th Century British Art, 21 July 2005, exh. cat., 2005

In his painting, Panoply (1964) Laing clothed his astronauts, schematising them as iconic, head-on - like his ‘continental’ film stars - and he decorated the painting with insignias; the badge of NASA and vernacular ‘hot-rod’ flames. The result is akin to Alloway’s description of ‘Situation’ paintings as banners - except Laing literalises the heraldic aspect of the astronauts into a techno-chivalric pennant.

David Mellor, The Sixties Art Scene in London p.141, exh. cat., Barbican Art Gallery, London, 1993, p.141

Catalogue Raisonné Information

We are compiling a full record of all Gerald Laing's artworks for the publication of a full Catalogue Raisonné.

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