Material from the Paolozzi archive
A selection of material from the Eduardo Paolozzi archive

If, on your way to Tate Britain, you have walked out of Pimlico tube station you may have noticed the elaborate ventilation tower just beside the entrance. This was designed by Eduardo Paolozzi, and is one of several public works by him in Britain. Many of Paolozzi’s personal papers are in Tate Archive, and to represent our acquisitions from 1994 I have chosen this selection of his project files. These files may not be visually appealing, but they contain a wealth of information on Paolozzi’s public projects. Paolozzi was one of the British artists that came to international prominence in the years after the Second World War. His work is diverse, featuring different media and a variety of sources. He drew on a wide range of references, from the classical to pop culture - indeed he did much to shape the emergence of what became Pop Art. Primarily a sculptor, he was also an influential collagist and printmaker. These project files contain the records of some of the many public commissions with which Paolozzi was involved. If you have visited London you may well have seen one of his works. As well as the ventilation tower at Pimlico, Paolozzi created the mosaic at Tottenham Court Road underground station, and one of his sculptures stands outside Euston station. His work can also been seen in his native Scotland, including the doors for the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow, and he worked extensively in Germany. Rich in information, these files contain plans, blueprints, correspondence with architects and others, all giving a glimpse into what is involved in creating a public sculpture. Not only do they reflect the creative side to being an artist, they also show how a successful artist organised his professional life. Tantalisingly, there are also unrealised projects in these files, such as his proposal for the British Library gates. While Paolozzi’s gates were not built (the existing gates were designed by David Kindersley and Lida Lopes Cardozo), his figure of Newton now overlooks the plaza. Tate Archive holds the papers of people and institutions important in Paolozzi’s career, such as Nigel Henderson (TGA 9211), and the Institute of Contemporary Arts (TGA 955). Henderson and Paolozzi, good friends, were part of the Independent Group, which met at the ICA, and contributed to two important exhibitions there, Parallel of Life and Art (1953) and This is Tomorrow (1956). Public sculptures often become an important part of our surroundings and can arouse strong reactions - as shown by recent debates over the Fourth Plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square. What would you like to see there? TGA 9411

Written by John Langdon