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until October 26 2014
This summer Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’s Print Room is showing a selection of paper and film collages by the Scottish artist Sir Eduardo Paolozzi.
Eduardo Paolozzi (Leith 1924 - London 2005) is known for his sculptures, films, silk-screen prints and textile designs, all featuring collage. The artist came across this technique in 1947, when he went to Paris and saw collages by many well-known Surrealists and Dadaists. To Paolozzi, collage was more than a technique; it was the very essence of his art. ‘All human experience is one big collage,’ said the artist. In One Big Collage, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen charts the development of Paolozzi’s oeuvre through some sixty works.
Paolozzi’s work was innovative in its use of images from popular culture. Paolozzi grew up in the period before the Second World War. As a child in the grim environment of crisis-hit Britain he became fascinated by American magazines and comic books, which he turned into collages. In the 1940s and 50s Paolozzi made a collage series he called Bunk!,; three of the works from it can be seen in the museum. Paolozzi showed some sheets from this series during his ground-breaking lecture in the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in 1952. The lecture was a plea for the use of images borrowed from popular culture as a source of inspiration for art in its own right. Although this was never his intention, he is often regarded as one of the pioneers of Pop Art. However, Paolozzi himself preferred to be seen as a Surrealist.
From its own collection Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is showing several graphic sheets from three different series, As is When and Moonstrip Empire News. Vol I & II, which Paolozzi made in the 1960s. These sheets give a good idea of Paolozzi’s development as an artist: even though he was still interested in the same subjects, technically he was blazing a new trail. Whereas previously he made collages by cutting and pasting, in the 1960s he began increasingly to experiment with all kinds of printing techniques, working closely with printmaker Christopher Prater, the owner of the famous Kelpra Studio.
As well as work on paper, the museum is also showing the film History of Nothing, which Paolozzi made with the director Denis Postle for the Royal Academy of Art in 1961-62. The film is a string of images that Paolozzi drew from his archives, together with some new collages. The endless stream of images lets viewers make their own connections. The result is a cinematic collage.
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen has the largest collection of works by Paolozzi in the Netherlands. In the 1960s the museum purchased two collage series by the artist. Tate Modern and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh also own works by Paolozzi.
Eduardo Paolozzi was successful early in his life: his first solo exhibition, at the age of twenty-three, was very well received. With the proceeds of the works he sold he went to Paris, where he spent time with well-known artists like Alberto Giacometti and Constantin Brancusi. This period influenced his artistic development. In 1949 he settled in London and worked on refining his collage technique. Later in his career Paolozzi concentrated primarily on projects for public spaces, like the mosaic wall in a London Underground station and various sculptures in squares and in buildings. He was made a Knight of the Order of the British Empire in 1988 at the age of sixty-four.