Pop rendition of Amy Winehouse kissing Blake Fielder-Civil

The Kiss by Gerald Laing (2007). Signed, titled, dated and numbered 9/90 screenprint with hand-applied gold leaf. Printed by Artizan Editions. 43 x 37in(110.5 x 94cm) £7,700. Offered by The Fine Art Society. 

Image: The Fine Art Society

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A highlight at Myth and Muse – The Cult of Celebrity is a An American Girl, from his series of bronzes, priced at £192,000. Incorporating works in oil, bronze and print, this broad sweep of Laing’s work is in Edinburgh until August 31.

The show features Laing’s first ‘pop’ painting, Anna Karina (1962), created while he was still at Central St. Martin’s. Karina was the wife and muse of French New Wave film director Jean-Luc Godard. The portrait was painted on nine joined canvases, making it as big as a billboard (POA).

Woman with black bob haircut on panels outside building on pedestrian street

Anna Karina, 1963 signed, titled and dated on canvas verso, oil on canvas painted at St Martin's School of Art, London 144 x 84in (366 x 213 cm) (nine panels), offered by The Fine Art Society. POA. 

In the 1970s, Gerald Laing married Galina Golikova, who became his model and muse and was an artist in her own right. The Galina series (1973-77) consists of 11 bronzes. The portraits convey an abstract idea of his partner, but largely, she’s devoid of identity.

This show features 7 of these works and also a bronze portrait of Andy Warhol, created in 1990 (£45,600). While Laing’s sculptures are reminiscent of Brancusi, it was George Mancini who taught him to cast bronze. In 1978, he set up his own bronze foundry at Kinkell, where many of the works in this show were created.

After a 30-year focus on sculpture, Laing resumed painting controversial subjects in the pop style which launched his career. He created works critiquing the war crimes at Abu Ghraib, based on the 2004 leaked photographs. The rise of Amy Winehouse inspired Laing to once again confront the vagaries of fame with a series of images reflecting the singer’s role as a tabloid target.

Discussing Winehouse, Laing said: "There is no doubt that she has become my most recent Muse. What interests me is the combination of the wonderful graphic power of her visual image and the extraordinary and almost mythical events of her life. The latter are always misunderstood, misinformed and misrepresented by the media; but they are the stuff from which a mythology is created.”

Abstract image of the model Kate Moss

KM (Kate Moss) by Gerald Laing, 2007-08. Screenprint printed in colours by Artizan Editions. Published by the artist edition of 90 + 12 AP sheet: 2ft 2in x 39in (66 x 99 cm). Offered for £9600 from The Fine Art Society

Image: The Fine Art Society

Since Laing's death in 2011, his works have been included in nearly every major survey of British Pop Art. "My work has been varied, and so has my life full of ups and downs; on top of the world one minute, descending into alcoholism the next," Laing said.

"But life is what you make of it, and when you have the confidence to go out and follow your dreams it can take you on an incredible journey."

Laing completed a series of major public art commissions in Edinburgh, notably the frieze of The Wise and Foolish Virgins for Standard Life Assurance Company’s headquarters at 3 George Street in 1979 and Axis Mundi for their new Tanfield building in 1991.

Other public bronze sculptures include Ten Dragons at Bank Tube station and a 27ft rendition of a rugby line-out which welcomes fans at Twickenham.

Gerald Laing: Myth & Muse- The Cult of Celebrity is at the Fine Art Society Edinburgh until August 31.