Thursday, 3 January 2019


After several contacts (thanks) I'll be progressively repeating the posts of the period 2013-18.  I hope they'll be of interest once again. 

Friday, 31 August 2018


With no new significant content for presentation, I'm now winding down this blog and removing the posts progressively.

If you do have any particular interest in any aspect of Paolozzi's graphic work, I'd be happy to hear from you - I'm at

Moonstrips Empire News - introduction

The quality of Bob Dylan’s creativity and his productivity were outstanding in the mid-Sixties.  The three LPs, Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde, ’65-’66, constitute his very best work.  Compare Eduardo Paolozzi and his printmaking, ’64-’67:  As Is When, Moonstrips Empire News and Universal Electronic Vacuum – masterworks all, embodying quality and quantity. 

Moonstrips is a portfolio of 98 screenprints- 8 of which are signed/numbered – presented in a Perspex box.  The prints are 380mm x 254mm.  Additional sheets included in the box are a title page, colophon and introduction by Christopher Finch.  Printing was by Kelpra Studio and the box was made by Herault Studios.  The Portfolio was published in 1967 in an edition of 500 by Editions Alecto. 
In As Is When Paolozzi invited the viewer to make both visual and linguistic connections, based on their own unique experience and knowledge, between many disparate component images and text.  Here Paolozzi was developing the ideas of Marcel Duchamp, an early pioneer of shifting the balance of activity from the artist towards the viewer.  Duchamp classified most art as being intended only to please the eye (‘retinal art’); his mission was to ‘put art back in the service of the mind’.  In Moonstrips we can enjoy this latter objective being achieved whilst being fully indulged retinally at the same time. 

In Duchamp’s Green Box - 1934 – notes about his Large Glass and other related experimental works are presented in a box, unbound – leaving it to the viewer to determine the order of their consideration:

Moonstrips follows the same principle, constituting what Paolozzi thought of as a ‘terrestrial image bank’.

Regarding language and its relationship to thinking, Paolozzi’s writing activity developed in summary as follows: 

In notes from a lecture at the ICA, 1958, he used words as units in a verbal collage 

Metafisikal Translations (1962) – words/phrases were strung together to create a meaning larger than the component parts.  Spellings were played with and typefaces varied in order to enhance ambiguities 

Wild Track for Ludwig- a text included in As Is When –is characterised by the use of found fragments of writing and its composition/editing by a semi-spontaneous method 

Kex (1966) collage novel.  In this Paolozzi ceded control of the final output by delegating editing and layout to Richard Hamilton 

Mnemonic Weltschmerz with probability transformations – the text in Universal Electronic Vacuum – was rendered with no sections/paragraphs 

Moonstrips – words were used as units in themselves, often as a self-sufficient idea-image.  Moonstrips was much more experimental with typography and layout.  Material was derived from a vast number of sources 

However, in this blog I want to concentrate on the visual image sheets - there are no less than 55 of them to enjoy!

Monday, 2 July 2018

In Praise of Church-going

Thinking of Eduardo’s childhood, I wonder to what extent his visual ‘vocabulary’ was – perhaps sublimely – influenced by an environment that enveloped him at least once a week:

Courtesy Cruon

This is the (Roman Catholic) St Mary Star of the Sea Church, Leith.  The exterior is rather sombre, the work of Pugin and Hansom, typical of the mid-Victorian (1854) Gothic style.  But, inside, we see rich patterns and visual structures that surely echo themes and devices that figured in the 60s/70s print series:

The second of these photographs (courtesy of Barry Gordon) shows the pattern-rich nature of this interior.  With geometric themes in the tiles of the floor and the wall surfaces along with several elements of the windows, I’m sure we are looking at the basis of many of Eduardo’s images, especially where blocks of pattern were ‘assembled’ in the manner of a physical building.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Eduardo was sound on Europe

In the current Brexit context, good to see that Eduardo was a ‘Common Market’ man rather than a fan of the federal nightmare.  That’s not to say that he didn’t like Europe itself – after all, he spent a lot of time in Germany teaching and working.  But, as you see, like many others of us, he left Paris ‘with his tail between his legs.’  And, as a prophet of the Brexit global-trading philosophy, note that Eduardo was selling mostly into the U.S.  The cutting is from The Tatler, August 1962 – a publication which regularly reported on his work and exhibitions during the Sixties:

© Illustrated London News Group

Monday, 29 January 2018

Aye, Robot (apologies to Isaac Asimov)

Paolozzi, the digital artist in a still-analogue age, had a fascination with robots, especially around 1970.  Nearly 50 years on, these things are now frequently in the news as examples break through from being laboratory projects into the everyday environment, for instance as now-practicable housework ‘assistants,’ and, yikes, as functioning sexual partners.  What was science fiction to us 1950s/60s/70s-dwellers is fast becoming everyday reality.  Disappointingly, the aesthetics of realisation don’t compare well with the imaginations of Fifties artists, Eagle’s Frank Hampson for instance, whose visualisation of the dashing man in space – Dan Dare – makes Apollo moonwalker Buzz Aldrin look no more than a  lumbering, jazzed-up Michelin Man.

Likewise, the primary-coloured tin and plastic toy robots of the Fifties appear much more characterful than the rather sterile-looking models now emerging, (though in regard to the sexually active ones, being hygienically sterile may well be a very desirable attribute . . .)

 Robots amongst a sample of the collection of toys amassed over many years by Paolozzi

Sexbot as pictured in the Sun, January 2017

But, back to 1970, and it’s a bit awkward in the Artist’s studio since it looks as if Eduardo’s chat-up lines were not impressing his mechanical companion:

Courtesy of Robin Spencer (Eduardo Paolozzi: Writings and Interviews)

Paolozzi said of the etchings series, Cloud Atomic Laboratory, (1971):

The schism that separates Space Age Engineering, technical photography, film making and types of street-art from fine art activities is for many people/artists unbridgeable.

Within the grand system of paradoxes, the theme of this portfolio is the Human Predicament. Content enlarged by precision. History shaded into the grey scale as in the television tube.

Le Robot Robert,’ is from the series:

© Trustees of the Paolozzi Foundation

Below is a detail of the 'Shelves of Readymades' which was made for the 1971 Tate Paolozzi exhibition.  This has been preserved within the Krazy Kat Archive kept at the V&A.:

Courtesy of Robin Spencer (Eduardo Paolozzi: Writings and Interviews)

Much convoluted theorising is valid about Paolozzi’s purpose in using robots as subject matter – analogy with issues of control/subservience in a new technological-age, for example – but he said something much more straightforward in 1960 talking to Edouard Roditi:

. . . if one of us (sculptors) chances to find a particularly nice and spooky-looking piece of junk like an old discarded boiler, he can scarcely avoid using it as the trunk or body of a figure, if only because its shape suggests a body to anyone who sets out to do this kind of assembly work.  Then one only needs to weld something smaller onto the top to suggest a head, and four limb-like bits and pieces onto the sides and the bottom to suggest arms and legs, and there you have the whole figure, which has come to life like a traditional Golem or robot . . .

This late Seventies book with its strangely engaging cover image was referenced by Paolozzi:

Paolozzi’s interest in these things as subject matter was sustained through to near the end of his career, as demonstrated by the most impressive sculpture, ‘Vulcan,’ installed in the Dean Gallery, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art:

© (c) Trustees of the Paolozzi Foundation

And, meanwhile, over at the National Museum of Scotland, some more Paolozzi robotic creations keep guard of a collection of ‘early-man’ artefacts:

© National Museums Scotland

Paolozzi had always liked to explore the juxtaposition of images and objects, contrasting the mundane with the deeply philosophical for example.  I think therefore that he'd be particularly pleased with this installation.