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In 1950 Paolozzi discovered an illustration in the National Geographical Magazine of a wooden head in sections made by American scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It was a model for testing the radiation caused by X-ray beams upon the human skull. Inspired by the Surrealists’ interest in uncanny medical imagery, and by the model’s mechanical appearance, Paolozzi copied the shape into a series of bronze heads. Despite its comical name, this humanoid bust represents the dehumanising effects of science, and the pose recalls effigies of ancient martyrs.

Eduardo Paolozzi was born at Leith, near Edinburgh in 1924. He lives and works in London.

August 2004