Eduardo Paolozzi (1924-2005) was one of the most influential British sculptors of the 20th century: stroll through the piazza of the British Library and you’ll spot his bronze Newton (1995) crouching on a plinth, compass in hand. In fact he was more than a sculptor, as this major retrospective at the Whitechapel Gallery in east London shows. And yet among his 250 works on display – from collages and ceramics to textiles and tapestries – the sculptures are never far from centre stage.
The chronologically arranged exhibition opens with his early concrete sculptures of the 1940s and 1950s, rough-hewn bouts of brutalism. In the 1960s he began to work with aluminium, producing pieces such as his colourful and totem-like “Diana as an Engine” (1963). He combined Richard Rogers’ various facial expressions to create a single bronze bust of the British architect in 1988 – one of many industrial bronze figures in the exhibition. The show ends in the 1990s with his fractured figurative structures: heads split in two and then oddly reconfigured.
Other highlights from the five decades of Paolozzi’s varied career include his abstracted screenprints and collages: he was among the founders of British Pop Art. Rejecting categorisation, he applied the principles of collage to sculpture – and vice versa.
16 February – 14 May.
Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, London, E1 7QX.
Photo: Whitechapel Gallery.