Pop Goes the Easel

One of the highlights of Night Gallery’s current exhibition ‘Made in Space’, curated by Peter Harkawik and Laura Owens (which I’ve reviewed in full here) is a painting by the British artist Derek Boshier. Boshier has had an extraordinary career, which has taken him from London (where he studied at the Royal College of Art with David Hockney, Allen Jones and R.B. Kitaj) to Texas in the 1980s, and finally to Los Angeles where he has lived since the late 1990s. He is currently included in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s exhibition “David Bowie Is,” which is displaying a maquette for a stage set Boshier made for one of Bowie’s tours in the 1980s. (Sadly, it was never built, owing to its structural complexity.)

I first encountered Boshier in the legendary BBC film “Pop Goes the Easel” (1962), directed by Ken Russell. Part of his arts series “Monitor,” Russell’s radical film is a fictionalized docu-portrait of four Pop artists still in their twenties—Peter Blake, Peter Phillips, Pauline Boty and Boshier. (My favorite part is the “Twist” scene at 37 minutes—see if you can spot the young Hockney trying to steal the show.) Electric with youthful excitement and promise, the film is all the more poignant because Boty died tragically young, only four years after it was made.

Boshier recently made a painting in her memory: Pauline Goes Digital (For Pauline Boty) (2011). It’s easy to imagine that Boty, like the iPad-obsessed Boshier, would be thrilled by the possibilities of technology in the 21st Century if she were alive today.