Eduardo Paolozzi: Collaging CultureEduardo Paolozzi: Collaging Culture

Metamorphosis of Rubbish

The image of man was the predominant concern in Paolozzi's sculpture of the 1950s. The artist was drawn to the qualities of the human head and produced a series of segmented heads collaged from portraits on the covers of 'Time' magazine. At this time he also produced sculptures such as 'Shattered Head',  'Bandaged Head' and 'Mr Cruikshank', which convey both man's vulnerability and resilience. Against the cultural background of the Cold War and the atomic age the artist's focus on the enduring qualities of the individual man took on an existential resonance.

In 1953 Paolozzi began casting bronze sculptures using the lost-wax technique. He developed a technique of pressing found objects such as machine parts and toys into a bed of clay which would then be cast in wax, before being cast into bronze. Paolozzi observed that: 'I use a collage technique in a plastic medium' and described his approach as 'the metamorphosis of rubbish'. He was fascinated with man's relationship with the machine, and created totemic forms that suggest tribal fetishes, the detritus of modern industrial society and science fiction imagery. His approach to constructing forms from assemblage relates closely to his concurrent screenprints in which collaged images of machine parts are combined to create robotic human heads.