Eduardo Paolozzi

Biography of Eduardo Paolozzi

The pioneering graphic designer, artist and sculptor rose from humble beginnings to become one of the world’s most influential and cherished artists. His collage work which incorporated technology and surrealism, made him into one of the earliest protagonists of Pop Art. His collage of 1947, I was a Rich Man's Plaything, is considered one of the earliest standard bearers for Pop Art, and was the first artwork to display the word “Pop”.

 

Born in 1924 in Edinburgh to Italian parents, he was detained during the Second World War after Italy declared war on the United Kingdom—his father and grandfather died during the conflict. Fascinated as a young man by American culture, he kept clippings from American magazines and enrolled at the Edinburgh College of Art with the dream of becoming a commercial artist. He then transferred to St. Martin’s School of Art in 1944 before finally enrolling at the Slade School of Fine Art.

 

Incorporating light and dark elements into his work, he was fascinated by the notion of society’s influence on man and the ambiguous idea of advancement and progress. After finishing his studies, he moved to Paris and immersed himself in French art, and became highly influenced by Alberto Giacometti and Jean Dubuffet. By the 1960s Eduardo Paolozzi began incorporating modern machinery into his art, and began producing brutal and unsettling abstract sculptures, presenting man as a component, a part of some vast alienating machine. These biomorphic figures were representative of a global inner anguish, and appeared deconstructed, in a manner reminiscent of cubism.

 

In the 1960s his silkscreen works became hugely influential, many of which dealt with complicated themes such as the work of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. He was a highly-regarded sculpture and ceramics teacher and taught at the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg, the University of California as well as the Royal College of Art.

 

His famous mosaic in Tottenham Court Road tube station has recently been partly removed and donated to the University of Edinburgh. His bronze sculpture Newton after Blake, 1995, stands outside the piazza of the British library in London. Pallant House Gallery in England in 2013 held a major retrospective “Eduardo Paolozzi: Collaging Culture”, featuring more than 100 of the artist’s works, including sculpture, film, ceramics and drawings.

 

His works can be found in the collections of the Tate, London, the Nationalgalerie in Berlin as well as MoMA in New York. He was honored with a Knighthood in 1989 after being given the role of Her Majesty’s Sculptor in Ordinary for Scotland. He participated in the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1952, 1954, 1960, 1964, 1968, and was a mainstay at documenta between the years of 1959, 1964, 1968, 1977. He died in London in 2005 having suffered a stroke in 2001. 

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