Celia Birtwell and Some of her Heroes
Date 1963
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 152.5 x 122.5 x 2 cm
Inventory ID UID 102-70
Pauline Boty was the female face of British Pop art. She studied at the Royal College of Art (1958–61) and was a classmate of Derek Boshier and Peter Blake, artists also represented in the Berardo Collection. She was the movement’s muse, known for her appearance in the BBC film Pop Goes The Easel, directed by Ken Russell. She died of cancer in 1966. Her paintings and collages show the budding Pop milieu of the 1960s, with liberated feminist figures, very different from the phantasms of some artists in the movement. The woman who was known as ‘The Wimbledon Bardot’ deserves to be rediscovered. The painting in the Berardo Collection is a combination of the epoch’s influences with a wall symbolizing the upheavals of the year 1963, including the assassination of John F. Kennedy, who appears in the iconography of ‘heroes’ along with the great names of Pop. Celia Birtwell, the muse of David Hockney (who depicted her with her husband, the designer Ossie Clark, in the painting Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy, in the Tate collection), became the most famous textile designer of her generation. J-FC