Exhibition Lecture: “Transatlantic Connections: Eduardo Paolozzi and Andy Warhol” Edinburgh

Today is the opening day of the newest exhibition at the National Gallery Modern Two in Edinburgh: Eduardo Paolozzi and Andy Warhol, titled “I want to be a machine.”  I attended an opening lecture at lunchtime and then went across town to see the exhibition for myself.

Lunchtime Lecture (1pm, National Galleries of Scotland)

Anne Massey was fascinating on the ICA in London (a subject she has researched and written books upon) and the group within it who were friends and occasional collaborators with Paolozzi – in the same way as Andy Warhol had his Factory friends around him (although he was probably more clearly the ringleader and King of that Court).

Pop Art – Anne pointed out that Pop Art in America and Pop Art in Britain tend to be exhibited separately, so this exhibition is unusual.  However, as the day continued, I was puzzled that this exhibition also seems to examine the artists very separately – and indeed her well-illustrated presentation onscreen showed their career and progress separately.

Similarities between the artists?  There are some basic bio similarities – both born in 1920s,

  • both lost fathers in WW2,
  • both children of immigrant parents,
  • both studied in 1940s and
  • relocated to a capital city to further their careers (one to New York, one to London),
  • both enjoyed using popular magazine pictures as raw material (Warhol to trace, Paolozzi to collage),
  • both worked across a range of media,
  • both were interested in the machine in art – Warhol wanting to produce like a machine, Paolozzi making images of machines
  • both made collaborations with friends – and that’s about it.  

At the very end of the lecture, one lady asked the question which was burning in my mind: “Did the 2 artists ever meet?”  Anne didn’t know.  The curator, Keith, said that their work had been exhibited together in America in 1968, in an exhibition mounted by MOMA.

As Anne pointed out, their style as artists was quite different – she used the wonderful phrase about Paolozzi that his

“work takes pleasure in a certain rough poetry”

The lecture proved to be a good introduction to the exhibition – however, much of what she said was also provided at the exhibition.


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