Spanning five decades and featuring over 250 works, the exhibition includes the artist’s post-War bronzes, screen prints, collages, textiles and fashion designs.
As a sculptor, printmaker, collagist, textile designer and filmmaker, Eduardo Paolozzi transformed post-war art in Britain. He used the influence and aesthetics of mass media and combined them with unconventional, often industrial materials, to allow for a new and highly experimental approach to image making.
‘Paolozzi was always an innovator; he consistently reinvented himself and defied traditions’ says Daniel Hermann, the curator responsible for this extensive retrospective. ‘He is often so underrated, or only recognised for his sculpture and printmaking. This show unearths new research and little-known works. It brings many of his creative sides and unknown facets to light.’
Born to Italian parents in Leith, Scotland, Paolozzi knew from an early age that he wanted to be an artist. He made his way to London to attend the Slade in the late 1940s, before having a successful show at the Hanover Gallery, earning a total of £45. The sum was enough to sustain a profoundly significant two-year trip to Paris, where he met Alberto Giacometti, Jean Dubuffet, Georges Braques and studied the principles of Dada and Surrealism.
On his return he embraced these influences and co-founded the Independent Group, a collective of radical young artists – including Richard Hamilton, Nigel Henderson and William Turnbull – who challenged Modernist ‘elitism’. Their seminal group show This Is Tomorrow at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1956 was considered a turning point in the birth of Pop Art.
As Paolozzi ventured into new forms of expression, he also experimented with his own commercial venture, partnering with Henderson. Hammer Prints was manifested as an ‘attack on the craft field using the silk-screen as the media to be exploited’.
Though anarchic in principle, the striking designs were nevertheless enormously marketable, appearing on stationery, plates, even cocktail gowns, examples of which will be on display in this substantial exhibition.