Eduardo Paolozzi: Collaging CultureEduardo Paolozzi: Collaging Culture

Collage, Textiles and The Independent Group in the 1950s

After his return to London from Paris in 1949 Paolozzi started teaching in the textile design department of the Central School of Art and Design. He produced screenprints that were often inspired by organic forms, and paper collages that reveal his interest in the unconscious imagery of abstract expressionism and the torn papers of Kurt Schwitters and Jean Arp. Paolozzi developed textile designs from his collages, which were translated into fabrics by companies such as Horrockses and David Whitehead Ltd. In 1954 he and Nigel Henderson set up Hammer Prints Ltd. to publish screenprinted textiles, ceramics and wallpapers.

Paolozzi and Henderson were key figures in the Independent Group of artists, architects and critics that met at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London from 1952 to 1955 and discussed topics such as science fiction, fashion, American advertising, car design, popular music, western films, architecture and art. At the first meeting Paolozzi presented a slide lecture of his 'BUNK' collages, created from the advertisements in American magazines (shown in the previous room). He collaborated with Henderson and the Smithsons on influential exhibitions associated with the Independent Group such as 'Parallel of Life and Art' in 1953 and 'This is Tomorrow' at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1956. These featured extraordinary installations of disparate imagery proposing new ways of looking and questioning notions of what was worthy of inclusion in an art gallery. The work presented typified a movement known as 'New Brutalism' that was associated with art and architecture at this time.