Set to coincide with the Scottish Parliament’s show of Andy Warhol, The Fine Art Society exhibited a sculpture of the artist by fellow pop artist Gerald Laing, accompanied by screenprints from his 1968 ‘Baby, Baby, Wild Thing’ as well as ‘Lincoln Convertible’. The latter, inspired by images from the Zapruder home movie, is derived from the original ‘Lincoln Convertible’ by Laing (1963, oil on shaped canvas) and is the only painting identified as having been created at the time of the shooting and was so controversial that Laing’s then dealer refused to show it and it was put into storage for thirty years . The show at the parliament featured over forty works exploring the themes of power and politics, including Warhol’s series of screen prints about the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
A central figure in the Pop scene of the 1960s, Laing, perhaps most famous for his iconic portrait of Brigit Bardot, met Warhol during a summer break in Manhattan in 1963. From 1964 to 1969 Laing lived in New York achieving great success exhibiting with the Richard Feigan Gallery in Chicago and Los Angeles. After his return to Scotland Laing was increasingly drawn to sculpture, which eventually became his principal occupation, casting work in his own foundry on the Black Isle in the North East of Scotland. Though Laing is widely acknowledged as a wonderful portrait sculptor, his 1988 depiction of Warhol (commissioned by the Warhol Institute) is perhaps particularly special marrying as it does the heady pop scene of Laing’s vibrant career in New York and the forceful more solemn work of his later sculpture. Here, Laing has achieved a streamlined, almost classical likeness by selecting and reinventing the forms which constitute the physical appearance of his iconic sitter. The wig which Warhol affected in his later years is treated with a particularly stark formalism, highlighting the sense of artifice that was so integral to Warhol’s persona.