Erase, Deface, Transform

Hal Foster

  • Eduardo Paolozzi
    Whitechapel Gallery, until 18 May

Born to Italian shopkeepers in Edinburgh in 1924, Eduardo Paolozzi was a key member of the Independent Group (IG) of artists, architects, curators and critics formed in London in the early 1950s. He was especially active in the New Brutalist wing of the IG, which also included the artists Nigel Henderson, William Turnbull and Magda Cordell, the architects Peter and Alison Smithson, and the critic Reyner Banham. In the late 1980s the Smithsons looked back on the ‘as found’ aesthetic of New Brutalism as ‘a confronting recognition of what the postwar world actually was like’: ‘In a society that had nothing you reached for what there was, previously unthought of things … We were concerned with the seeing of materials for what they were: the woodness of wood, the sandiness of sand. With this came a distaste of the simulated.’ Implicitly here the Smithsons were positioning New Brutalism against the simulacral culture of American advertising then on the rise, yet the IG was also fascinated by this new culture and, with its echo of the objet trouvé, the ‘as found’ advanced its own version of image-making too.

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