A drawing by the only female founder of the British Pop Art movement powered to £7,150 at Sworders
sale of Modern and Contemporary art on April 5. Works by Pauline Boty (1938-1966), who died aged just 28, are very rare: fewer than 100 are thought to have survived. This pencil in paper, drawn with the clean, solid lines characteristic of British Pop Art, depicts the artists husband, Clive Goodwin, reclining in a moment of sleepy repose. It dates from c.1963 shortly after they had married following a whirlwind romance.
Born in South London in 1938, Boty grew up in a conservative Catholic family. With the support of her mother (whose artistic ambitions had been thwarted by her parents) she won a scholarship to Wimbledon School of Art studying alongside Robyn Denny and Bridget Riley in 1957 and 1959. Her developing friendships with Pop artists such as David Hockney and Peter Blake drew her further into this circle, and in 1961, she participated in a group show titled Blake, Boty, Porter, Reeve. Her first solo exhibition was held at the Grabowski Gallery, Chelsea in 1963.
This 25 x 20cm drawing, estimated at £2000-3000, had been part of Clive Goodwins estate. In 2013 formed part of a commercial exhibition at The Mayor Gallery on Cork Street, titled 'Pauline Boty and Other Modern British Artists'. Boty received her first full museum retrospective at the Wolverhampton Art Gallery; later travelled to Pallant House Gallery in 2013.
The top price of Sworders sale was provided by 'Emollient', a powerful oil on canvas by Paul McPhail (b.1966). Signed and dated '1998' verso, this large unframed study of a human head shows a face stripped away to reveal the under layers of flesh, blood, muscular structure, gums, and bloodshot eyes. Even the title connotes texture emollient, an oily, moisturising layer added to the skin.
This painting is evocative of the better-known work of Jenny Saville a close friend of McPhail at the time it was painted and now his wife. The pair studied together at Glasgow School of Art and later shared a studio space in Palermo. In 1994, both artists visited a plastic surgeons operating theatre, witnessing procedures that exposed the fragility of skin. Estimated at £10,000-15,000, Emollient sold for £26,650.