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Graphic works by Eduardo Paolozzi on view at Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Eduardo Paolozzi, Secrets of the Internal Combustion Engine from Moonstrips Empire News, 1967 © The Eduardo Paolozzi Foundation.

WAKEFIELD.- Yorkshire Sculpture Park presents a display of graphic works, still vibrant and fresh today, by influential UK Pop artist Eduardo Paolozzi (1924–2005). The exhibition runs from 12 March to 12 June 2016.

The Upper Space display includes graphic works taken from the series BUNK, Zero Energy Experimental Pile, Moonstrip Empire News and General Dynamic F.U.N., all gifted to YSP by the artist in 1994. These works stand as pictorial sourcebooks that reveal Paolozzi’s fascination with post-war popular culture through an eclectic range of sources, from advertisements, films, toys, magazines and packaging to emerging technology. Throughout his life Paolozzi kept scrapbooks, with images cut out and collaged largely from American comics and publications. He felt the seductive appeal of American consumerism offered a promise of ‘exotic society, bountiful and generous’.

Featuring kaleidoscopic imagery and exuding energy, series such BUNK and General Dynamic F.U.N. provide particular evidence of the influence of American popular culture on Paolozzi’s practice. BUNK – through the use of glamorous images of models, domestic appliances and cars – highlights and explores man’s skewed relationship with technology, production, consumption and waste. In General Dynamic F.U.N., the artist draws on and juxtaposes familiar icons from Hollywood film and glossy adverts to offer humorous observations on mass culture, capitalism and daily interaction with visual media, which still resonate today. The artist's friend and sometime collaborator, J.G. Ballard, described the collection as a 'unique guidebook to the electric garden of our minds'.

The boldest of Paolozzi’s series, Zero Energy Experimental Pile (1969–70) presents a bright, hallucinogenic series made up of six screen prints. Including images of pin-up girls, robots, airplanes, rockets and astronauts, the series was created at the height of the Cold War and takes its name from a nuclear reactor in Ontario.

Seen through the lens of the concurrent KAWS exhibition, and with a distance of over half a century between the two bodies of work, this display illustrates a fascinating artistic lineage while revealing ways in which our society has changed. KAWS shares Paolozzi’s passion for toys and many other ideas and preoccupations connect them, including the everyday, inhabiting and subverting popular culture and breaking down artistic hierarchies. Both artists embrace the belief that art should be accessible, responsive to contemporary culture and reflect the evolving iconography of the modern world.

Paolozzi was a central figure in British art from the post-war period and throughout the latter half of the 20th century. Responding to Surrealism and Dadaism, his innovative approach is widely viewed as a precursor to and driver of the British Pop Art movement. Notable works include the patterned walls of Tottenham Court Road tube station in London, the sleeve design for Paul McCartney’s album Red Rose Speedway and the Head of Intervention outside the Design Museum in London. Paolozzi first exhibited at YSP in the early 1980s and in 1994 the Park presented a major exhibition to mark his 70th birthday. Two of Paolozzi’s sculptural works Girot and Collage City, formerly sited at YSP, are currently being exhibited at Le Consortium, Dijon as part of the exhibition L'Almanach 16 (21 February–29 May 2016).

Born in Edinburgh in 1924 into a family of Italian immigrants, Paolozzi felt a sense of not belonging from an early age, which developed into an artistic style free of ‘English’ traditions. After a time in the RAF, Paolozzi persevered with academic art training at the Slade School of Fine Art from 1944. He became increasingly obsessed with popular culture and, especially, kitsch. He had a fascination for comics, cigarette cards and garish toys; Hollywood movies and their Technicolor ideals of youth, glitz and possibility.

Paolozzi moved to London from Paris in 1949 where he worked in printmaking and experimented with collage. Through casting interesting objects pressed into a wax sheet, he built up a library of impressions that were used in combination to create sculptures. Paolozzi was interested in the democratisation of art, in art being a normal part of people’s lives. He was always interested in the views of children. He never lost his fascination for the world around him and his work abounds with energy and inventiveness. In both sculpture and printmaking he created a unique style that extended Surrealist ideas and merged them with the ephemera and concerns of everyday culture that reflects the changing face of the 20th century.

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