Eduardo Paolozzi: Collaging CultureEduardo Paolozzi: Collaging Culture

Renewing Surrealism: The Early Work of Eduardo Paolozzi

Born in Leith, Scotland in 1924, Eduardo Paolozzi was the son of Italian immigrants who ran an ice-cream and confectionary shop. As a young man he developed a passion for going to the movies, collecting cigarette cards and ephemera, and creating scrapbooks: activities that contributed to his lifelong interest in popular culture. At the outbreak of World War II his father and grandfather were interned and subsequently died when the ship the S.S. Arandora Star was torpedoed, and Paolozzi was enlisted to serve in the Pioneer Corps. After his discharge in 1944 he was accepted to study art at the Ruskin School in Oxford, and subsequently the Slade School of Art, where he made lifelong artist friends such as Nigel Henderson and William Turnbull. Inspired by the work of Pablo Picasso he created earthy and vigorous sculptures such as 'Bull' which did not conform to traditional concepts of refined sculpture then being taught at the Slade.

Paolozzi began collaging found imagery of machine parts and classical statuary having seen the Surrealist collages of Max Ernst and Kurt Schwitters. In 1947, he moved to Paris with the proceeds of his first one-man exhibition at the Mayor Gallery. He met avant-garde artists including Jean Arp, Alberto Giacometti, Fernand Léger, and Tristan Tzara, and was influenced by the development of 'Art Brut' characterised by the work of Jean Dubuffet. Using American magazines given to him by former G.I.s Paolozzi began a series of collages created from the glamorous advertisements of models, domestic appliances and cars that he described as an 'extension of radical Surrealism.'