Sir Eduardo Paolozzi

Mr Cruikshank


Not on display

Sir Eduardo Paolozzi 1924–2005
Object: 290 × 290 × 200 mm, 8.5 kg
Transferred from the Victoria & Albert Museum 1983

Display caption

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.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

T03764 Mr Cruickshank 1950

Polished bronze 11 3/8 × 11 3/8 × 7 7/8 (290 × 290 × 200)
Inscribed ‘E Paolozzi 1950’ and ‘MORRIS SINGER FOUNDER LONDON’ behind left shoulder
Transferred from the Victoria and Albert Museum 1983
Prov: Given by the artist to the Department of Circulation, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1971 (Circ. 682–1971)
Exh: ? Eduardo Paolozzi, Tate Gallery, September–October 1971 (30, unspecified cast)
Lit: Winifried Konnertz, Eduardo Paolozzi, 1984, pp.60–7

This bronze, and the plaster from which it was cast, were given by the artist to the Department of Circulation, Victoria and Albert Museum, after his exhibition at the Tate Gallery in 1971. Since the plaster is not listed as included in this exhibition, it is not certain that this particular cast of the bronze was shown there.

Winifried Konnertz (op.cit.) reproduces on p.60 a double page from one of Paolozzi's scrapbooks of 1950 which includes two pages cut out from a magazine. This describes an experiment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in which a dummy head of a man was bombarded with X-rays, in order to study the treatment of brain tumours, under the title Wooden Head is Target for X-ray Research.

Paolozzi's head is copied closely from the head illustrated, including the lines marked geometrically around the surface. The head in the experiment came to pieces in sections so that film could be inserted to measure the penetration of the rays, and was called by the scientists ‘Mr Cruickshank’, but apparently

His name, picked at random, has no special significance

One of the three photographs, titled

Block-headed ‘Mr Cruickshank’ Plays a Brainy Role in Crucial X-rays shows the bust on a table with the X-ray apparatus pointing straight at it.

This head was one of the first sculptures made after Paolozzi's move in the autumn of 1949 from Paris to London, and is unlike his preceding works, such as ‘Forms on a Bow’, 1949 (T00227).

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986

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