Eduardo Paolozzi, ‘Composition’, ca. 1967, Robilant + Voena
Eduardo Paolozzi, ‘Composition’, ca. 1967, Robilant + Voena
Eduardo Paolozzi, ‘Composition’, ca. 1967, Robilant + Voena
Eduardo Paolozzi, ‘Composition’, ca. 1967, Robilant + Voena

Paolozzi's interest in chrome-plated steel as a material for his work emerged in 1964, inspired by his visits to the 'Alpha Engineering Works' in Ipswich where he was then making aluminium pieces. Paolozzi explored the materiality of chromed steel and polished aluminium surfaces, relishing in their gleaming surfaces, which captured the light, allowing for the interchange between soft highlights and dark shadows. These new designs presented a unified and powerful aesthetic which was almost minimalist in its effect.

Paolozzi's interest in chrome-plated steel as a material for his work emerged in 1964, inspired by his visits to the 'Alpha Engineering Works' in Ipswich where he was then making aluminium pieces. Paolozzi explored the materiality of chromed steel and polished aluminium surfaces, relishing in their gleaming surfaces, which captured the light, allowing for the interchange between soft highlights and dark shadows. These new designs presented a unified and powerful aesthetic which was almost minimalist in its effect.

Eduardo Paolozzi was a prolific and inventive artist most known for his marriage of Surrealism's early principles with brave new elements of popular culture, modern machinery and technology. He was raised in the shadows of World War II in a family deeply affected by the divisive nature of a country involved in conflict, which bred his lifelong exploration into the many ways human beings are influenced by external, uncontrollable forces. This exploration would come to inform a vast and various body of work that vacillated between the darker and lighter consequences of society's advancements and its so-called progress. On the one hand, he would create abstract sculptures, which were dark and brutal in both material and form, portraying the idea of man as a mere assemblage of parts in an overall machine. On the other hand, he would create collages, brighter in nature that reflected the way contemporary culture and mass media influenced individual identity.

Though better known for his collages, the present sculpture is a representation of Paolozzi’s less exposed abstract work, demonstration the artist’s lifelong fascination with the relationship between humans and machinery, the progress of cold technology and the reaction from the organic body, in search of an individual’s identity. His sculptures reflect a communal inner sense of angst. The influence of Surrealism and Cubism can be traced throughout Paolozzi’s work, regardless of medium, in the way he continued to pair disparate imagery, disjointed forms, and subconscious ephemera.

Signature: marked E.P. on the underside of the base

Image rights: Courtesy of Robilant+Voena

Private collection, Italy

About Eduardo Paolozzi

Fascinated by modern machines and technology, Eduardo Paolozzi produced graphic art, collages, pottery, films, mosaics, and sculptures inspired by industrial engineering. His early bronze sculptures of anguished human figures incorporated impressions made by machines as well as found objects, synthesizing them to evoke new associations. This later developed into a new process of piecing together works from prefabricated aluminum and brass casting molds; the resulting geometric human forms have often been described as “totems for the technological age.” Crucially, Paolozzi came to embrace technology rather than perceiving it as a demon to be feared, and wrote and lectured extensively on how popular culture and science should inform sculpture. He is often cited as an important exponent of Surrealism in Great Britain, as well as an influence on Pop Art.

Scottish, 1924-2005, Leith, United Kingdom, based in London, United Kingdom