Sir Eduardo Luigi Paolozzi KBE RA († April 22, 2005 in London) was a Scottish graphic artist and sculptor. He had a major influence on British Pop Art.
Paolozzi was born in Scotland, the son of Italian immigrants. In June 1940, when Italy declared war on Great Britain, he – like most other Italian men – was interned as an “enemy alien”.
In 1943 Paolozzi went to the College of Art in his hometown. In 1944 he began studying at St Martin”s School of Art, and from 1945 to 1947 he attended London”s Slade School of Fine Art. In 1947 Paolozzi moved to Paris for two years, where he enrolled briefly at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and met artists such as Arp, Brancusi, Giacometti, Léger and Dubuffet.
Back in London, he taught textile design at the Central School of Arts and Crafts from 1949 and then sculpture at Martin”s School of Art from 1955 to 1958.
In 1952 he became a member of the Independent Group, an association of young artists of Pop Art.
Paolozzi had his first solo exhibition in 1947 at the Mayor Gallery, London. Eduardo Paolozzi was a participant in documenta II (1959), documenta III (1964), the 4th documenta (1968) and also documenta 6 in 1977 in Kassel. He represented Great Britain at the XXX. Venice Biennale in 1960, where he won the David E. Bright Prize for the best artist under 45. In 1968, the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf held a solo exhibition of his sculpture and graphics. The Yorkshire Sculpture Park dedicated a major exhibition to Eduardo Paolozzi in 1994 on the occasion of his 70th birthday.
Paolozzi also taught at German universities. Between 1960 and 1962 he received a visiting professorship at the Hamburg University of Fine Arts. In 1977 he was appointed to the chair of ceramics at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences – Department of Art and Design – (Cologne Werkschulen). In 1981 Paolozzi moved to the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, where he taught until his retirement in 1989.
Paolozzi was appointed a Member of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1979, Sculptor in Ordinary for Scotland in 1986, and Knight Commander by Queen Elizabeth II in 1989.
In 1994, Paolozzi donated much of his work and the furnishings of his artist”s studio to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. The Scottish National Gallery subsequently opened the Dean Gallery, Edinburgh in 1999, which displays this collection and a replica of his studio.
In 2001, Paolozzi suffered a near-fatal brain stroke, as a result of which he was confined to a wheelchair. He died in a London hospital in April 2005.
Paolozzi”s work is strongly influenced by his interest in mass media; he was interested in everyday objects of use and kitsch in particular. Paolozzi – as an immigrant free from “English” traditions – developed a unique style that, extending surrealist ideas, included ephemeral concerns of daily life. He used a wide range of materials in his work. In his early sculptures, many made of aluminum, assemblages of scrap materials, gathered together in the junkyard, took on humanoid forms that later evolved into highly polished robotic figures.
He later created complex mechanistic fantasy scenarios that paid homage to postwar scientific development and industrial technology. A sculpture in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park was dedicated to children as a playground; the vocabulary of forms was intended to appeal to children”s imaginations and encourage them to climb and play hide-and-seek. The garden-architectural fountain installation o.T. (1989) in Munich as well as the fountain environment in Rheingarten, Cologne, have a similar character.
In the sixties and seventies, Paolozzi also made use of several illustrations from books by the German physician and non-fiction author Fritz Kahn (1888-1968) and artistically processed his man-machine analogies, e.g. with the silkscreen “Wittgenstein in New York” (1965), the print series “Secrets of Life – The Human Machine and How it Works” (1970) or also for the design of the book title “Lost in the Funhouse” (Penguin, 1972). This accidental discovery was made by the siblings Uta von Debschitz and Thilo von Debschitz during their research on Fritz Kahn”s life and work.
Paolozzi”s best-known works include the cover for Paul McCartney”s album Red Rose Speedway (1973) and the color mosaics on Tottenham Court Road subway station in London (1983-85). In the Donaupark Linz stands his Hommage à Anton Bruckner. Three works in Munich alone bear witness to his Munich period: For Leonardo (a fountain o.T. (1989) in bronze and granite, and Camera (1978