Sir Eduardo Paolozzi

Tapestry

1966

On display at Tate Modern

Artist
Sir Eduardo Paolozzi 1924–2005
Medium
Fabric
Dimensions
Image: 1930 x 1321 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Mrs Gabrielle Keiller through the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1967
Reference
T00917

Summary

Tapestry is a woven tapestry work by the Scottish artist Eduardo Paolozzi. With a drop of just under two metres and stretching to almost one and a half metres wide, the work bears geometric patterns that are woven in five distinct blocks. The bottom edge displays a series of horizontal stripes that act as a visual ground for subsequent blocks of pattern. This supports two triangular shapes, built of horizontal stripes of varying widths, against a background of short, vertical stripes of colour. A third block of pattern displays a repeated wave shape in varying shades of pink across the width of the tapestry. Above this a block of horizontal strips of colour are overlaid with two amorphous shapes that mirror one another, each containing a small rectangular area of diagonal rainbow-coloured stripes. Finally, at its topmost edge, the tapestry is woven in a series of short vertical stripes.

The work was made by Paolozzi in 1966 in collaboration with weavers at the Atelier Pinton Frères in Paris. It is the first of a series of three tapestries commissioned by the Robert Fraser Gallery from the Galerie Garnier and executed by the Atelier Pinton Frères from an enlargement of a cartoon in the form of a collage by the artist.

Titled simply Tapestry, the work follows the theme of the artist’s As Is When (Tate P04756P04768), a series of silkscreen prints from 1964–5. The As Is When prints concern the life and ideas of the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889–1951). This is a subject that Paolozzi had discussed with his friend and colleague, the Austrian art theorist Anton Ehrenzweig (1908–1966), and which he addressed in his work across different media. Ehrenzweig had previously acted as a dye technician and screenprinter for Paolozzi when both men worked in the textiles department at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London in the early 1950s. Paolozzi turned to Ehrenzweig to discuss Wittgenstein’s writings on language and image (Williamson 2015, p.60).

In an interview in 1964 the artist Richard Hamilton suggested that Paolozzi’s interest in Wittgenstein was an obsessive theme. Paolozzi replied:

I’ve been wrestling with the subject on and off for about two years, and I’ve approached it originally with hesitancy; but I am now, more or less, involved as I can ever be now … I feel a certain kind of restlessness, which I betray in every sentence I utter; restlessness about the kind of words which are used round the image.
(Quoted in Spencer 2000, p.127.)

Tapestry can be visually linked with the As Is When print Assembling Reminders for a Particular Purpose 1965 (Tate P04758), which it reimagines in a new form. Later tapestry commissions included the Whitworth Tapestry 1967, produced at Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh (reproduced in Spencer 2000, p.310).

Gabrielle Keiller presented Tapestry to the Friends of the Tate Gallery in 1967. Keiller, a major patron of Paolozzi’s work, originally purchased it from the Robert Fraser Gallery.

Further reading
Eduardo Paolozzi, Writings and Interviews, ed. by Robin Spencer, Oxford 2000.
Simon Martin, Eduardo Paolozzi: Collaging Culture, exhibition catalogue, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester 2013, p.79.
Beth Williamson, ‘Eduardo Paolozzi: A Different Way of Looking’, in Between Art Practice and Psychoanalysis Mid-Twentieth Century: Anton Ehrenzweig in Context, Farnham 2015, pp.59–93.

Beth Williamson
April 2016

Supported by Christie’s.

Display caption

This tapestry was woven from a collage by Paolozzi, an artist who worked across sculpture, print-making and film, incorporating imagery from popular culture and forms from industrial machinery.

Gallery label, February 2016

Catalogue entry

Eduardo Paolozzi 1924-2005

T00917 Tapestry 1966

Inscribed on label at back ‘Édité par la Galerie Garnier/ d’après le carton de Paolozzi/ H: 195 L: 132 M2/ tapisserie selection née par/ Jacques Damase/ Ex No. 1 Tapisserie d’Aubusson/ tissée par/ les Ateliers/ Pinton Frères’.
Tapestry, 76 x 52 (193 x 132).
Presented by Mrs Gabrielle Keiller through the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1967.
Coll: Purchased by Mrs Keiller from the Robert Fraser Gallery.

This tapestry, the first of an edition of three, was commissioned by the Robert Fraser Gallery from the Galerie Garnier and executed (as the label says) by the Atelier Pinton Frères from an enlargement of a cartoon in the form of a collage by Paolozzi. It was made as part of a series, issued by the Galerie Gamier, which included tapestries after cartoons by Atlan, Kyino, S. Delaunay and Fraser. It resembles in style some of the silk screen prints made by Paolozzi at the same period.

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1967–1968, London 1968.