Friday, 3 July 2015

Zero Energy Experimental Pile

This is the last of Paolozzi’s great 60s print suites, created whilst he was a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley.  Steeped in the contemporary American West Coast culture, the imagery is especially rich, complex and charismatic.  The title is derived from an atomic physics book – a typical piece of Paolozzi image/language magpie-ing.

Throughout the suite there is an underlying tension between the super-serious themes of the Cold War/The Space Race/Globalisation and the banality of popular consumer products/images/media outputs.  Pure pattern takes a bit more of a back seat, but is still used selectively to great effect.  Where written language had become progressively more central to Paolozzi's work in the preceding suites, Z.E.E.P. is a celebration of hectically assembled, maximum-impact visual imagery.

Z.E.E.P. was published in 1970 by Petersburg Press in an edition of 125; (some sources state 100).  Presented in a silver solander box, the prints are 860mm x 600mm.

As the 60s came to a close Paolozzi was seeking to maximise his use of the more photo-friendly lithography process.  However, creative demands intervened and in a letter dated 2nd February 1970 Paolozzi told Diane Kirkpatrick:
The new set of prints is called Zero Energy Experimental Pile is (sic) half-way through proofing, once again the original intention was to use photolitho exclusively but screen printing is beginning to appear.

First print glories in the title: Plus Cry on my Shoulder, No Sad Songs etc:


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