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Eduardo Paolozzi incorporated collage into his working practice in the winter of 1946, at the beginning of his final year at the Slade School of Art in London. In those early works images cut out from magazines were arranged in an unexpected but nonetheless spatially logical relation to one another. Thus in Real Gold 1949 (Tate T06934) a woman with a floor mop stands on the bonnet of a car while a couple on a motorbike ride over its roof. Around 1950, however, Paolozzi developed a new technique, which he used in No Easter without Good Friday. He took the covers of the Atlantic edition of the American weekly magazine Time, which were invariably faces of famous or powerful people, and cut them into narrow, predominantly horizontal, strips. Having dissected them in this way, he then created new faces by interchanging facial elements. From 1950 onwards the fragmented head was to become an important motif for Paolozzi and other Independent Group artists, among them Nigel Henderson (1917-1984), John McHale (1922-1978) and William Turnbull (b.1922). The use of Time as source material reflects an interest in American culture that was also shared by many in the group.
In No Easter without Good Friday Paolozzi integrated fragments from Time covers published between 1952 and 1953. The facial features are a composite of the hair of Mrs Eisenhower (1896-1969), wife of President Eisenhower, the eyes of the popular singer Rosemary Clooney (b.1928), the ears and nose of the American athlete Bob Mathias (b.1930), and the chin of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen (1895-1979). Sheen, whose name appears at the bottom, was auxiliary bishop of New York in 1952 and the most prominent spokesman of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. Through his radio broadcasts on The Catholic Hour (1930-52) and his television programme Life is Worth Living (1952-5) the bishop's conservative views on Communism, Freud, and evolution were well known in America and may have had some currency in Britain. In the mid 1920s he had been assistant pastor of the predominantly Irish and Italian parish of St Patrick's in Soho, London, and had continued to visit the parish regularly since.
The title of the collage is taken from the strap-line that accompanied Time's cover photograph of Bishop Fulton. The line had been lifted from the magazine's article on the bishop in which he was characterised as someone who believed that 'modern man seems to live in a Good Friday age. Sheen believes that man, his faith in God shaken, has retreated within his own self, but has found there no peace, only shallow and temporary comforts. Disillusioned by a welter of scientific and political cure-alls, he looks for resurrection, but too often he wants it without sacrifice and before death - "promises of salvation without a cross, abandonment without sacrifices, Christ without his nails." Adds Sheen: "There is no pleasure without pain, no Easter without Good Friday."' (Time, vol. LIX, no.15, 14 April 1953, p.38).
There is no evidence that Paolozzi intended No Easter without Good Friday as a satirical attack on the bishop. Unlike the Dadaists, who had used collage to this effect, Paolozzi has stated that he was primarily attracted to the immediacy of the technique and its conceptual function as a metaphor for the complex, fragmented nature of life and modernity. Writing in 1996 Paolozzi noted that, 'The reduction of skills and techniques paradoxically focuses the image by the potency of the content, the invention of the impossible is achieved by manipulation and jumping beyond pre-conception. Unlike the world of school where the universe was systematized in a certain order, the reassembly of this disparate material reflected a true state, both autobiographical and dynamic' (Eduardo Paolozzi, 'Artificial Horizons and Eccentric Ladders', Eduardo Paolozzi: Works on paper 1946-1995, exhibition catalogue, British Council, London 1996, p.11). The dislocation of time and space and the mix of masculine and feminine in No Easter without Good Friday exemplify these concerns.
For some members of the British avant-garde, in particular those artists who were associated with the Independent Group, Paolozzi's use of mass-media imagery as art was a breakthrough for their own artistic development. A seminal event for many of them was his BUNK lecture given at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, in 1952, about the same time as No Easter without Good Friday was made. Without commentary or clear sequential order, he projected various mass media images one after another in a manner that might be described as a performed collage. The parochialism and idealism of much British art can, according to Paolozzi, explain the mix of excitement and shock with which the lecture was met at the time.
The collage was probably made in London, possibly at Paultons Square, Chelsea, where Paolozzi and his wife Freda were living as tenants of the scholar and poet Kathleen Raine (b.1908), or at his studio in Radnor Walk, Chelsea, which he shared with William Turnbull. The discrepancy between the date of Time's cover of Bishop Fulton, which was 14 April 1953, and Paolozzi's handwritten date in the bottom right suggests that he signed and dated the work at a later date.
Fiona Pearson, Eduardo Paolozzi, exhibition catalogue, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh 1999, pp.20-31
Diane Kirkpatrick, Eduardo Paolozzi, London 1970, pp.19-46
David Robbins (ed.), The Independent Group: Postwar Britain and the Aesthetics of Plenty, pp.94-108
10 June 2001