Revisit Paolozzi’s sculptures …

The Whitechapel Gallery is hosting an exhibition of Eduardo Paolozzi’s work, from 16 February to 14 May 2017.

I’m interested to see their exhibition and also re-acquaint myself with his public sculpture in London, of which there is a smattering, and so I conceived of a WALK, linking these up and culminating in a tour of the gallery – a psychogeographic walk no less, connecting each place where Paolozzi lived or worked or left a permanent art work.

It turns out many are not so permanent, as several have vanished from their initial locations, as we shall see.

Actually I don’t massively like Paolozzi’s work, or that of those who are ranked alongside him like Giacometti, Caro, Ernst, nevertheless I can see that he was following – possibly from the front – a path of art production which pretty much characterises what I think of as twentieth century sculpture – big, blocky, machiney, obtuse, greek goddy, lumps of bronze; hard to love. The Whitechapel exhibition focuses less on his sculpture and more on his print work and collage, so this walk brings some of the scale that he was commissioned to make. We’ll see on the sculptures traces of the objects and decorations that he hoarded in his studio – he was kind of child-like in what he gathered and kept, a rich bedding soil for creative work.

The walk begins at the statue of Isaac Newton mapping the universe. This is a fantastic sculpture, making me wish that Paolozzi had collaborated more with painterly artists like Blake – can you imagine Paolozzi versions of Turner’s Mallard train or Frans Hal’s Cavalier? They would be amazing. From there we’ll check the nearby piss-pauvre Piscator, then head to the newly-reclaimed and recleaned mosaic murals at Tottenham Court Road tube station. We’ll see some maquettes, which are for sale, and a reinterpretation from a psychogeographic perspective of the Head of Leonardo da Vinci.

There is a pre-walk visit to the Head, which is now at the Design Museum in Kensington.


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