An Artist’s Lifetime of Asking the Hard Questions

Derek Boshier, “Some Landscapes” (2020), acrylic on canvas, 72 x 60 inches (all images courtesy the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York)

Derek Boshier has followed an unconventional career path ever since he received his MFA from the Royal College of Art in 1962, where his classmates included Allen Jones (until he was expelled), Pauline Boty, R. B. Kitaj, Peter Phillips, and David Hockney, with whom he has maintained a long and continuous friendship. 

Like many of his classmates, Boshier is widely considered a central member of the first generation of English Pop artists. He was one of four artists featured in the film Pop Goes the Easel (1962), directed by Ken Russell and broadcast on the BBC (March 25, 1962). (The others were Peter Blake, Boty, and Phillips.) But while his peers in this group followed a trajectory that seemed laid out for them, he went to India for a year.  

After returning to England, he painted Pop abstractions that shared some qualities with the American artist Nicholas Krushenick, also an outlier. Starting in 1967, feeling that painting was not equipped to deal with everyday life — which, at that time, was characterized by convulsive change and unrelenting upheaval — Boshier concentrated on photography, film, video, assemblage, and installations.

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