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Eduardo Paolozzi at The Whitechapel Gallery

22nd March 2017

This year, The Whitechapel Gallery celebrates the life and work of Eduardo Paolozzi (1924-2005), who was one of the most influential post-war artists and a unique figure of the 20th century. He is considered as the ‘godfather of Pop Art’, and his powerful collages, sculptures and prints challenged artistic convention from the 1950s to the 1990s. We were able to attend the press view of the exhibition, which is now open until the 14th May 2017. It features over 250 pieces by the awe-inspiring Paolozzi, including unique bronzes, screen-prints, textiles and fashion designs - we couldn't get enough! It was an absolute feast for the eyes...

An array of artistic projects from Paolozzi, including some of his screen printing that has been transferred onto dresses - innovative!

Left and right: Early sculptures by Paolozzi from his retrospective exhibition at The Whitechapel Gallery.

Paolozzi grew up as the child of immigrants in Edinburgh and held his first solo exhibition at the Mayor Gallery, London in 1947 aged 23. It was from there that Paolozzi found major success, and was known to defy categorisation: he moved from painting to collage to textiles with such a fast pace, that he could not classed as a specific type of artist! 

A collaborative series of screen prints that Paolozzi worked on with Nigel Henderson, from 1950-2.

"The city is packed full of a variety of his work, from his Tottenham Court Road tube mosaics which are now fully restored and more vibrant than ever, to his major public sculptures."
"Tyrannical Tower Crowned with Thorns of Violence 1961" in bronze, and "Bride of the Konsul 1962" in gunmetal.

The exhibition spans over five decades and is presented in four chronological sections, beginning with Paolozzi’s groundbreaking early brutalist concrete sculptures. This section demonstrates Paolozzi’s willingness to reject established artistic practices, expanding the traditional boundaries of art into the realm of popular culture. In his famous ‘Bunk!’ lecture, which is part-recreated using wall projections for this show, he presented clippings of Coca-Cola adverts, ’50s pin ups and sci-fi illustrations, analysing their artistic merit. These were the founding days of pop art, and exemplify why Paolozzi is referred to as a major pop art influencer.

"Bunk!" was a lecture that Paolozzi gave at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, where he showed students an array of magazine pull-outs ranging rom pin-up girls, images of aliens to coca-cola advertisements.

"The Whitworth Tapestry" from 1967 has Micky Mouse and other Disney characters woven into it."As Is When" is a series of twelve screenprints on paper form 1965, with individual names such as "Artificial Sun", "Experience" and "Reality".

The exhibition finishes with Paolozzis work in the late 1980’s to 90’s with key sculptures that demonstrate the artists returning interest in figuration, as well as his subversive approach to conventional notions to the multiple art object. Within this final section, Paolozzi pokes fun at the work he created in his early life, and this peevishness moved him to create ‘Calcium Night Light’, a lively series of prints inspired by the composer Charles Ives. The Whitechapel has curated this beautifully, flooding the room with music to complement the synaesthetic shapes and colours.

Left: "Avant-Garde?!" from 1971 - an iconic screenprint on paper. Right: "Untitled Wood Relief" from 1973, made using wood and glue.

Left: "Suwasa" from 1966 is a complex sculpture, made from cast, extruded and welded aluminium. Right: An array of facial sculptures that Paolozzi created towards the later part of his life.

Towards the end of his life, Paolozzi donated much of his art, thus it can be said he made his mark in London - literally. The city is packed full of a variety of his work, from his Tottenham Court Road tube mosaics which are now fully restored and more vibrant than ever, to his major public sculptures. For example, The Squatting Newton outside the British Library is a well-know Paolozzi piece, as well as a giant dissected head outside the old Design Museum. But, if you've already seen these works around London, then we would definitely recommend you visit The Whitechapel Gallery to see the rest of Eduardo Paolozzi's vast retrospective!

Eduardo Paolozzi

The Whitechapel Gallery

16 February – 14 May 2017

Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High St
London, E1 7QX

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