“Eduardo Paolozzi is one of the most interesting artists of the 20th century,” says Daniel Herrmann, curator at the Whitechapel Gallery. “His work continuously broke down barriers between art forms.”
Hermann has worked with fellow curator Cameron Foote on a new retrospective exhibition on the artist and designer at the London gallery, which spans five decades of Paolozzi’s career and features more than 250 pieces of work.
The curators are keen to give the public insight into the many fields in which Paolozzi worked, and show that he “wasn’t just a textile designer or a sculptor”, says Herrmann. Aside from tapestries and sculptures, he also branched out into mediums such as album cover art and mosaic designs.
London Underground mosaics
One of his most notable works is the expansive, colourful mosaic mural which adorns the walls of London’s Tottenham Court Road tube station, and which were the source of controversy when they were removed during the station’s reconstruction in 2015. Transport for London (TfL) has now restored 95% of the original mosaics following public outrage at their removal, which is telling of the impact of Paolozzi’s work on London’s commuters.
The exhibition, taking place at London’s Whitechapel Gallery, plays on this accessibility and the far-reaching appeal of Paolozzi’s work, while also highlighting how he challenged artistic conventions.
Sculptures, screen-prints and textiles
It will showcase work from the entirety of Paolozzi’s career, from post-War bronze sculptures and screen-prints to textiles and fashion designs. It will also feature “lost work”, says Herrmann, with work that has rarely been seen before.
This includes pieces such as the 1953 Cocktail Dress by Horrockses and The Whitworth Tapestry, which aim to highlight how Paolozzi regularly stepped into the “everyday world of art”, says Herrmann.
Herrmann believes it is for this reason that the public continue to relate to the artist and why he remains so loved. “Paolozzi’s work is so often part of people’s lives,” he says. “For example, the mosaics at Tottenham Court Road station, like his sculptures, are part of Londoners’ everyday lives.”
“There is so much to Paolozzi that people don’t know”
“There is so much to Paolozzi that the public don’t yet know and we’d love to see visitors get excited by his creativity, criticality and versatility,” he adds. “The exhibition gives a broad overview of his whole career and offers the Paolozzi highlights.”
The exhibition spaces were designed by head of exhibition design and production at the Whitechapel Gallery, Christopher Aldgate, who created the displays, lighting and exhibition design based on previous Paolozzi exhibitions.
Herrmann says: “The exhibition space really shows the different facets of Paolozzi’s work – every room is different and reflects his changing style.”
Eduardo Paolozzi runs at the Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7QX until 14 May 2017. Tickets cost £13.50. For more information, see the Whitechapel Gallery’s website.
All photos © Trustees of the Paolozzi Foundation, licensed by DACS