Eduardo Paolozzi

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Sir Eduardo Paolozzi
Paolozzi's 1995 Newton follows William Blake's 1795 print Newton in illustrating how Isaac Newton's equations changed our view of the world to being one determined by mathematical laws (1995).
Born7 March 1924 (1924-03-07)
Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland
Died22 April 2005 (2005-04-23) (aged 81)
London, England
EducationEdinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh
Slade School of Fine Art, UCL
Known forSculpture, art
MovementPop art

Sir Eduardo Luigi Paolozzi CBE RA (/pˈlɒtsi/,[1][2] Italian: [paoˈlɔttsi]; 7 March 1924 – 22 April 2005) was a Scottish artist, known for his sculpture and graphic works. He is widely considered to be one of the pioneers of pop art.

Early years[edit]

Paolozzi's I was a Rich Man's Plaything (1947) is considered the first standard bearer of Pop Art and first to display the word "pop". Paolozzi showed the collage in 1952 as part of his groundbreaking Bunk! series presentation at the initial Independent Group meeting in London.

Eduardo Paolozzi was born on 7 March 1924, in Leith in north Edinburgh, Scotland, and was the eldest son of Italian immigrants.[3] His family was from Viticuso, in the Lazio region. Paolozzi's parents, Rodolfo and Carmela, ran an ice cream shop. Paolozzi used to spend all his summers at his grandparents place in Monte Cassino and grew up bilingual.[4] In June 1940, when Italy declared war on the United Kingdom, Paolozzi was interned (along with most other Italian men in Britain). During his three-month internment at Saughton prison his father, grandfather and uncle, who had also been detained, were among the 446 Italians who drowned when the ship carrying them to Canada, the Arandora Star, was sunk by a German U-boat.[5]

Paolozzi studied at the Edinburgh College of Art in 1943, briefly at Saint Martin's School of Art in 1944, and then at the Slade School of Fine Art at University College London from 1944 to 1947, after which he worked in Paris. While in Paris from 1947 to 1949, Paolozzi became acquainted with Alberto Giacometti, Jean Arp, Constantin Brâncuși, Georges Braque and Fernand Léger. This period became an important influence for his later work.[6] For example, the influence of Giacometti and many of the original Surrealists he met in Paris can be felt in the group of lost-wax sculptures made by Paolozzi in the mid-1950s. Their surfaces, studded with found objects and machine parts, were to gain him recognition.[7]


After Paris, he moved back to London eventually establishing his studio in Chelsea. The studio was a workshop filled with hundreds of found objects, models, sculptures, materials, tools, toys and stacks of books.[8] Paolozzi was interested in everything and would use a variety of objects and materials in his work, particularly his collages.[9] In 1955 he moved with his family to the village of Thorpe-le-Soken in Essex. Together with Nigel Henderson he established Hammer Prints Limited, a design company producing wallpapers, textiles and ceramics that were initially manufactured at Landermere Wharf, and when his evening course in printed textile design at the Central School of Art and Design attracted the Trinidadian graphics student Althea McNish, he was instrumental in pointing her towards her future career as a textile designer. Paolozzi came to public attention in the 1950s by producing a range of striking screenprints and Art brut sculpture. He was a founder of the Independent Group in 1952, which is regarded as the precursor to the mid-1950s British and late 1950s American Pop Art movements. His seminal 1947 collage I was a Rich Man's Plaything is considered the earliest standard bearer representing Pop Art.[10][11][12] He always described his work as surrealist art and, while working in a wide range of media though his career, became more closely associated with sculpture. Paolozzi is recognized for producing largely lifelike statuary works, but with rectilinear (often cubic) elements added or removed, or the human form deconstructed in a cubist manner.

Paolozzi sculpture (1982) near Pimlico station of the London Underground system

He taught sculpture and ceramics at several institutions, including the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg (1960–62),[13] University of California, Berkeley (in 1968) and at the Royal College of Art. Paolozzi had a long association with Germany, having worked in Berlin from 1974 as part of the Berlin Artist Programme of the German Academic Exchange Programme. He was a professor at the Fachhochschule in Cologne from 1977 to 1981, and later taught sculpture at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich. Paolozzi was fond of Munich and many of his works and concept plans were developed in a studio he kept there, including the mosaics of the Tottenham Court Road Station in London.[9] He took a stab at industrial design in the 1970s with a 500-piece run of the upscale Suomi tableware by Timo Sarpaneva that Paolozzi decorated for the German Rosenthal porcelain maker's Studio Linie.[14]

Paolozzi's graphic work of the 1960s was highly innovative. In a series of works he explored and extended the possibilities and limits of the silkscreen medium. The resulting prints are characterised by Pop culture references and technological imagery. These series are: As Is When (12 prints on the theme of Paolozzi's interest in the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein; published as a limited edition of 65 by Editions Alecto, 1965); Moonstrips Empire News (100 prints, eight signed, in an acrylic box; published as a limited edition of 500 by Editions Alecto, 1967); Universal Electronic Vacuu (10 prints, poster and text; published by Paolozzi as a limited edition of 75, 1967); General Dynamic Fun. (part 2 of Moonstrips Empire News; 50 sheets plus title sheet; boxed in five versions; published as a limited edition of 350 by Editions Alecto, 1970).

In the 1960s and 1970s, Paolozzi artistically processed man-machine images from popular science books by German doctor and author Fritz Kahn (1888–1968), such as in his screenprint "Wittgenstein in New York" (1965), the print series Secrets of Life – The Human Machine and How it Works (1970), or the cover design for John Barth's novel Lost in the Funhouse (Penguin, 1972). As recently as 2009, the reference to Kahn was discovered by Uta and Thilo von Debschitz during their research of work and life of Fritz Kahn.[15]

Later career[edit]

Paolozzi mosaic designs for Tottenham Court Road Station. Location shown is the Central Line westbound platform (1982).

Paolozzi was appointed CBE in 1968[16] and in 1979 he was elected to the Royal Academy. During the late 1960s, he started contributing to literary magazine Ambit, which began a lifelong collaboration.

In 1980, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) commissioned a set of three tapestries from Paolozzi to represent 'present day and future societies in relation to the role played by ICAEW', as part of the institute's centenary celebrations. The three highly distinctive pieces - which Paolozzi wanted to "depict our world of today in a manner using the same bold pictorial style as the Bayeux tapestries in France" - currently hang in Chartered Accountants' Hall.[17]

He was promoted to the office of Her Majesty's Sculptor in Ordinary for Scotland in 1986, which he held until his death. He also received an Honorary Doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in 1987.[18]

Paolozzi was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1989 as Knight Bachelor (Kt).[19]

In 1994, Paolozzi gave the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art a large body of his works, and much of the content of his studio. In 1999 the National Galleries of Scotland opened the Dean Gallery to display this collection. The gallery displays a recreation of Paolozzi's studio, with its contents evoking the original London and Munich locations and also houses Scottish-Italian a restaurant, Paolozzi's Kitchen, which was created by Heritage Portfolio in homage to the local artist.[8]

In 2001, Paolozzi suffered a near-fatal stroke, causing an incorrect magazine report that he had died. The illness made him a wheelchair user, and he died in a hospital in London in April 2005.[20]

In 2013, Pallant House Gallery in Chichester held a major retrospective Eduardo Paolozzi: Collaging Culture (6 July −13 October 2013), featuring more than 100 of the artist's works, including sculpture, drawings, textile, film, ceramics and paper collage. Pallant House Gallery has an extensive collection of Paolozzi's work given and loaned by the architect Colin St John Wilson, who commissioned Paolozzi's sculpture Newton After Blake for the British Library.

Notable public works[edit]

Other work[edit]


  • Metafisikal Translations by Eduardo Paolozzi, Lelpra, London, 1962
  • Eduardo Paolozzi by Eduardo Paolozzi, Tate, London, 1971
  • Junk and the New Arts and Crafts Movement by Eduardo Paolozzi, Talbot Rice Centre, Edinburgh, August 1979
  • Recurring themes by Eduardo Paolozzi, Rizzoli (1984), ISBN 978-0-8478-0573-0

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Paolozzi". Collins English Dictionary. HarperCollins. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  2. ^ "Paolozzi, Eduardo". Oxford Dictionaries UK English Dictionary. Oxford University Press.[dead link]
  3. ^ "Sir Eduardo Paolozzi". Daily Telegraphdate= 23 April 2005.
  4. ^ "Artists' Llives: Sir Eduardo Paolozzi Interviewed by Frank Whitford C466/17" (PDF). National Life Stories. British Library. Retrieved 15 March 2022.
  5. ^ "NAS gets behind bars", The National Archives of Scotland.
  6. ^ ″Paolozzi Arches Noah″, Exhibit Catalog, Münchner Stadtmuseum, 1990.
  7. ^ Jonathan Clark. "Eduardo Paolozzi (1924–2005) – Jonathan Clark Fine Art". Archived from the original on 3 November 2012.
  8. ^ a b "Paolozzi Studio" Archived 6 February 2011 at the Wayback Machine, National Galleries of Scotland.
  9. ^ a b ″Mythologies″, Exhibit Catalog, The Scottish Gallery, 2–26 May 1990.
  10. ^ Livingstone, M. (1990), Pop Art: A Continuing History, New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
  11. ^ "Eduardo Paolozzi", Exhibit Catalog, Hefte der Akademie der Bildenden Künste, 1977.
  12. ^ "'I was a Rich Man's Plaything', Sir Eduardo Paolozzi". Tate Etc.
  13. ^ Where he taught the 'fifth Beatle' Stuart Sutcliffe. "Report by Eduardo Paolozzi, 23 October 1961". liverpoolmuseums. Archived from the original on 4 January 2017. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  14. ^ [Anon.] (1976). "Faenza-Goldmedaille für SUOMI". Artis. 29: 8. ISSN 0004-3842.
  15. ^ Uta and Thilo von Debschitz (2009). Man Machine / Maschine Mensch. Springer Wien New York. ISBN 978-3-211-99181-7. Archived from the original on 5 March 2011.
  16. ^ "No. 44484". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 1967. p. 11.
  17. ^ "Chartered Accountants' Hall: Inside a piece of history". Vital (46): 20–21. October 2010. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  18. ^ "Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh: Honorary Graduates". Retrieved 6 April 2016.
  19. ^ "No. 51578". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 1988. p. 1.
  20. ^ "Pop artist Paolozzi dies aged 81". BBC News. 22 April 2005.
  21. ^ "Tube station mosaics to be seen in new light in artist's home city". Edinburgh College of Art. 28 July 2015. Archived from the original on 15 September 2015.
  22. ^ "Paolozzi mosaic restoration work starts in ECA Sculpture Court". Edinburgh College of Art. 26 October 2015. Archived from the original on 20 August 2016.

External links[edit]