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Details & Cataloguing

Modern & Post-War British Art

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London

Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, R.A.
1924 - 2005
THE TWIN TOWERS OF THE SFINX-STATE II
aluminium
height: 171.5cm.; 67½in.
Executed in 1962, the present work is unique. 
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Provenance

Private Collection, UK, from whom acquired by the present owner in 2007

Exhibited

São Paolo, British Council, VII Bienal de São Paolo, Great Britain: Davie, Paolozzi, Vaughan, 1963, cat. no.12;
London, Hanover Gallery, Paolozzi, July 1968, illustrated p.8;
Berlin, Nationalgalerie, Eduardo Paolozzi, 5th February - 6th April 1975, cat. no.32, illustrated p.33;
London, Frieze Art Fair, Gavin Brown Enterprises, 16th - 19th October 2008;
London, Christie's, When Britain Went Pop, British Pop Art the Early Years, 9th October - 23rd November 2013, illustrated p.140.

Literature

Diane Kirkpatrick, Eduardo Paolozzi, New York Graphic Society, Connecticut, 1969, pp.58-9, illustrated pl.40;
Uwe M. Schneede, Paolozzi, Harry N. Abrams, New York, 1970, pp.14, 16, illustrated pl.40;
Eduardo Paolozzi, Sculpture, Drawings, Graphics 1949-1968, exh. cat., British Council, 1982, cat. no.32 (a large scale photograph of The Twin Towers of the Sfinx-State II was included in this touring exhibition);
Winifried Konnertz, Eduardo Paolozzi, DuMont Buchverlag, Cologne, 1984, pp.123, 126, 128, illustrated pl.250.

Catalogue Note

‘These sculptures evoked a different conceptualisation of the relationship between the artists, the machine and the power of technological modernity’ (Jon Wood, ‘The Silver Sixties, Paolozzi’s Sculpture Abroad’, in Eduardo Paolozzi, exh. cat., Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2017, p.153.)

We are grateful to Dr Judith Collins for her kind assistance with the cataloguing of the present work. 

Dr Judith Collins is currently preparing the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the Artist’s work and would like to hear from owners of any work by the Artist so that these can be included in this comprehensive catalogue. Please write to Dr Judith Collins, c/o Sotheby’s Modern & Post-War British Art, London, W1A 2AA or email modbrit@sothebys.com.

 

More so than any other British artist of the Post-War period, Eduardo Paolozzi continued to explore and develop his highly unique visual language throughout the course of his career. He pushed boundaries in both subject and material and took advantage of the tremendous technological advancements made in industry in Britain and the continent during the 1960s. As an artist well known for his association with The Geometry of Fear group, his bronzes of the 1950s, often cast via the lost-wax process, had much in-line with the work of many of his contemporaries – artists such as Lynn Chadwick, Reg Butler and Kenneth Armitage – and the great Alberto Giacometti, whose studio a young Paolozzi had visited when he was in Paris in the 1940s. Yet by the 1960s there was a radical departure in Paolozzi’s sculptural working method with the introduction of new and exciting materials such as polished aluminium and stainless and chrome-plated steel. In a culture where,by the 1960s, the traditional social divides were fast disappearing, Paolozzi blurred the lines between that of ‘artist’ and ‘engineer’ with the physical construction of these new pieces, working with Len Smith at Juby Engineering Works, as the artist later recalled:

‘For the last three years, I have been going to an Engineers in Ipswich, Suffolk to have my sculptures made – the event takes place entirely in the welding bay – there the welders and I work together – cutting, sawing, tacking sections together, filing and finally welding the finished work.’ (Eduardo Paolozzi, quoted in Jon Wood, ‘The Silver Sixties, Paolozzi’s Sculpture Abroad’, in Eduardo Paolozzi, exh. cat., Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2017, p.153.)

The sculptures that Paolozzi produced – often, as seen in the present work, on an impressive and imposing scale – whilst incorporating aspects of the newly emerging British Pop culture, remained rooted in his early interest in Classicism for their subject matter (as can be seen in the titles of many of the works of this period).

As with the work of his close contemporary William Turnbull, who, like Paolozzi, made a radical departure from his traditional materials during the 1960s, the works have, until recently, been somewhat overlooked by historians who struggled to place them within the broader context of British Post-War sculpture. But, at the time, they were met with great enthusiasm both in Britain and abroad, with the present work included in the São Paulo Biennale in 1963, and the ‘first version’ of the present work (cast in bronze) housed in the collection of the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester. Understanding and acknowledgement has shifted, with major shows discussing and incorporating these impressive monuments to ‘60s Pop at London’s Whitechapel Gallery in 2017, and currently at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, where Paolozzi’s work is displayed alongside that of American Pop artist Andy Warhol. The Twin Tower of the Sfinx-State II showcases Paolozzi’s sheer brilliance in creating sculptural form, and his ingenious experimental drive in approaching new materials and techniques with a great gusto and originality. As such, the work stands as an homage to ingenuity of the most original of British sculptors of the Post-War period. 

Modern & Post-War British Art

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London