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Gerald Laing British, 1936-2011

Sculptor, painter and printmaker. Born Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland. As one of the original wave of Pop artists Gerald Laing produced some of the most significant works of the British Pop movement, and today continues to hold his rightful place as one of the most important artists of his generation. Laing first came to prominence in London in the early 60s, where he pioneered the painting of enormous canvases based on newspaper photographs of models, astronauts and film stars.

 

Although initially a Pop artist, by the late-1960s Laing was also known as a sculptor of minimalist forms. In 1969 he acquired Kinkell Castle, on the Black Isle, in Scotland and restored it, in 1977 setting up a substantial bronze foundry there to handle his own work. By this time he had rejected abstraction for figuration, returning to the mainstream, but continually experimenting within it. Laing’s teaching posts included visiting professor at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, 1976–7; and Professor of Sculpture at Colombia University, New York, 1986–7. In 1978–80 he was on the art committee of the Scottish Arts Council, in 1987 being appointed commissioner on the Royal Commission for Fine Art in Scotland. 

 

Laing showed widely internationally, having a one-man show at Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1963, another at the ICA, 1964, then the first of a string at Richard Feigen Gallery, New York, 1964, and with Richard Feigen in Chicago, 1965. The Cincinnati Centre for Contemporary Art gave Laing a retrospective in 1971, others following at Herbert Art Gallery, Coventry, 1983, and Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, 1993. The Fine Art Society held two major shows of Laing’s sculpture in 1999 and 2008. In 1995 Laing was commissioned to make eight dragons for Bank tube station, and in 1996 four bronze rugby players for Twickenham Stadium.

 

He is represented in the Tate Gallery, National Galleries of Scotland, MOMA, New York and the Victoria & Albert Museum, amongst other public and private collections in Britain and abroad. Laing set up the The Gerald Laing Art Foundation to promote the understanding, appreciation and practise of sculpture.