- Sir Eduardo Luigi Paolozzi (1924 - 2005)
Few of the millions of travellers who pass through Tottenham Court Road Underground station, and admire the mosaics decorating the walls, realise that they were designed by a Scot, Eduardo Paolozzi.
Paolozzi was born in Crown Place, Leith, on 7 March 1924, the only son of Italian parents who owned an ice cream shop in the town. His paternal grandfather was named Michelangelo but he says that did not influence his interest in art. He attended Edinburgh College of Art but was called up for army service during the war. He was later accepted by the Slade School of Art and it was there that he first became involved with sculpture. He worked in Paris shortly after the end of WW2. He was influenced by cubist and surrealist artists but his early works were collages of clippings from media images, advertisements and comic strips (he had been brought up on a diet of US films in Leith). He called them "ready-made metaphors for the dreams of the masses."
As a leading member of the Independent Group of Artists at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, he participated in the "This Is Tomorrow" exhibition in London in 1956. Paolozzi then developed into abstract sculpture and won the award for Best Sculptor under 45 at the 1960 Venice Biennale. He held a one-man show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1964. He took an early interest in silk screen printing - the meticulous detail of his work lent itself to this process. His paintings and screen prints frequently reflected an interest in science and technology. The illustration above is entitled "Allego Moderato Fireman's Paradise" from "Calcium Light Night"
He moved to West Berlin in 1974 and was made a member of the Royal Academy in London in 1979 and was appointed Professor of Sculpture at the Akaemie der Bildenden Kuenste in Munich in 1981. Paolozzi was knighted in 1989 and a new Dean Gallery in Edinburgh beside the Gallery of Modern Art contains a reconstruction of his studio.
In addition to the London Underground mosaics mentioned earlier, other commissions have included the ceiling panels and window tapestry at Cleish Castle, the aluminium relief doors for the Hunterian Art Gallery in Glasgow, a wall relief in the City of Monchengladbach, Germany, the "Piscator" sculpture in Euston Square London, the cover of Paul McCartney's album "Red Rose Speedway", a bronze for the Royal Bank of Scotland in Edinburgh. The display of ancient Celtic artifacts in modern robotic bronzes at the Museum of Scotland is also striking (shown here).
Paolozzi died on 22 April 2005 after a long illness which had confined him to a wheelchair for the last four years of his life. Following his death, Scotland's culture minister Patricia Ferguson said: "Eduardo Paolozzi was one of Scotland's true international icons. He was an artistic colossus and it is fitting that as an enduring legacy, his work adorns the walls of the Scottish Parliament as well as our modern art gallery in Edinburgh."
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