I Wonder What My Heroes Think of the Space Race

Derek Boshier (1937 - )

Oil on canvas


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  • About the work
    Country: UK
    City: London
    Place: Downing Street

    A perfectly spherical moon provides the central focus of Derek Boshier's classic British Pop Art painting of the 1960s. Intersected below is the Earth, its land masses dripping ominously like blood. Amid the clouds are Boshier's 'heroes', all of whom died tragically, either by assassination or accident.

    A half portrait of Lord Horatio Nelson in military dress and eye patch surveys the scene. Nearby, is the bearded figure of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth President of the United States, who was in office during the American Civil War. The spectacled face of Buddy Holly, the American rock and roll singer, stares out from the clouds. Floating below, inside a white space is Yuri Gagarin, the Soviet cosmonaut and national hero who was the first human to enter space and to orbit the Earth in 1961. Boshier was enthralled by the imagery of the American-Soviet 'space race' - the ideological battle for space exploration that dominated American and Soviet politics for two decades. Painted in 1962, 'I Wonder What My Heroes Think of the Space Race' captures the spirit of the race to get humans to the moon.

    Derek Boshier was born in Portsmouth and studied at Yeovil School of Art and in the early 1960s, at the Royal College of Art, where he was one of a younger generation of British Pop artists. He has exhibited widely and is well represented in British public collections. Major group exhibitions of his work were held at Tate Britain in 2004 and at the National Portrait Gallery in 2007. Today Boshier lives and works in Los Angeles.

  • About the artist

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    Nelson, Horatio, Viscount NelsonLincoln, AbrahamHolley, Charles Hardin ('Buddy Holly')Gagarin, Yuri Alekseyevich
    Materials & Techniques
    canvas, oil, oil painting
  • Details
    I Wonder What My Heroes Think of the Space Race
    Oil on canvas
    height: 241.00 cm, width: 174.00 cm
    Purchased from Sotheby's, 2 December 1976
    Signed verso
    Sold through Sotheby's, London, on 2 December 1976 (Lot 368); from which sale purchased by the Department of the Environment
    GAC number