New Eduardo Paolozzi exhibition showcases an “open, accessible art form”

The late sculptor and designer behind the prior mosaics at London’s Tottenham Court Road tube station, will be celebrated at a new exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park this month.

Secrets of the Internal Combustion Engine, from Moonstrips Empire News - 1967
Secrets of the Internal Combustion Engine, from Moonstrips Empire News – 1967

Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) is set to open an exhibition on Eduardo Paolozzi, which aims to show how he made art and design “open and accessible”.

Paolozzi is the designer behind such projects as the prior colourful wall tile mosaics at London’s Tottenham Court Road tube station, and the album artwork for Paul McCartney’s Red Rose Speedway.

Graphic Works by Eduardo Paolozzi includes 70 two-dimensional, graphic works taken from four series ranging from the 1950s to 1970s – BUNK, Zero Energy Experimental Pile, Moonstrip Empire News and General Dynamic F.U.N.

Scrapbook and drawings will show design process

The prints show how the artist used popular culture for inspiration in his work, ranging from adverts, films and magazines to toys, packaging and emerging technology of the time.

Paolozzi donated the works to the YSP, following his 70th birthday exhibition at the gallery in 1994.

Alongside the prints, the showcase will also include an early scrapbook of the artist, and a book of drawings completed for a commission for Cleish Castle in Scotland, donated by a friend of the artist.

“An explosion of colour”

Curator at the exhibition Sarah Coulson says that the exhibition space, which is based within a corridor and mezzanine level of the gallery’s visitor centre, is relatively minimal to make way for the prints, which have “so much going on visually”.

“Most of his prints are an explosion of colour with so many different influences,” she says. “He was an avid collector of popular imagery, and looked at how pop culture fed into art, holding the mirror up of the world around us.”

Coulson adds that his displayed work looks at conflicting issues such as consumerism and the Cold War, moving onto dystopian, science fiction prints focused on war, showing Paolozzi’s “critical eye”.

“It seems like a pure, visual celebration, but there’s an edge to it as well,” she says.

Paolozzi’s influence on pop art

The exhibition follows the YSP’s recent showcase of current graphic designer KAWS, and aims to show how Paolozzi’s work has influenced others.

“Paolozzi’s work was an early incarnation of pop art, and a driver of it,” says Coulson. “Lichtenstein and Warhol followed, and others who were celebrating the same ideas. KAWS works in a similar way, showing how Paolozzi is still relevant to artists today.”

An “open and accessible art form”

She adds: “Both Paolozzi and KAWS straddle somewhere between art and the every day aesthetic – wanting art to reflect every day life.”

She says that Paolozzi’s immersion with popular culture shows his viewpoint that art and design should not be elitist.

“He was an avid collector of toys, as a symbolism of play and freedom, and designed sculptures that were also meant to be used as children’s playgrounds,” Coulson says. “He thought art should be democratic, and wanted an open and accessible form that related to people’s lives.”

Graphic Works by Eduardo Paolozzi takes place at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) 12 March – 12 June. Entry is free.

Hollywood Wax Museum, from Zero Energy Experimental Pile - 1969-70
Hollywood Wax Museum, from Zero Energy Experimental Pile – 1969-70
King Kong King Kong, from Moonstrip Empire News - 1967
King Kong King Kong, from Moonstrip Empire News – 1967

All images courtesy YSP © The Eduardo Paolozzi Foundation

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