Eduardo Paolozzi was a Scottish sculptor, printmaker and filmmaker. Born in Leith, Scotland, Paolozzi went on to study at Edinburgh College of Art (1943), Saint Martin’s School of Art (1944) and the Slade School of Art (1944-47) before travelling to Paris (1947-49), where he became acquainted with some of the leading European artists of the time, Alberto Giacometti, Jean Arp, Constantin Brâncuși, Georges Braque and Fernand Léger. Upon his return to the U.K., Paolozzi founded the Independent Group in 1952.
The Independent Group is now considered to be the precursor to British and American Pop Art, hence Paolozzi’s totemic presence in the canon of British Pop Art. The group introduced the notion of mass culture into debates about high art, and challenged the prevailing understanding of modernism, championing a ‘found object’ aesthetic. Incorporating imagery from magazines, as well as found objects (most famously engineering equipment and machine parts), Paolozzi developed a unique visual language at the heart of which was the fusion of man and machine in reaction to post-war society.
Paolozzi was appointed CBE in 1968, elected to the Royal Academy in 1979 and knighted in 1989. In 2013, he was the subject of a major retrospective at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester. Paolozzi’s work features in many leading collections, including the Tate Collection, National Galleries of Scotland and Peggy Guggenheim Museum, Venice. Yet it is his public works that are perhaps most pertinent such as the monumental sculpture, Newton After Blake, which graces the entrance of the British Library, and his glass mosaics decorating Tottenham Court Road tube station in London.