Eduardo Paolozzi (1924-2005) : Original prints from ‘General Dynamic F.U.N.’ (1965-70)
Eduardo Paolozzi (1924-2005) is a key figure in the history of postwar British art, both as co-founder of the Independent Group and father of the sixties Pop Art movement.
As a boy Paolozzi spent many hours working in the family shop where customers would give the young Eduardo cards from their cigarette packets featuring Hollywood stars, aircraft and submarines. He began to collect this ephemera alongside cuttings from American magazines, advertising prospectuses and technological journals, which he’d then splice together into scrapbooks and collages. Paolozzi described his resulting pieces as ‘ready-made metaphors’ and his fascination with the popular imagery of mass-culture, a veritable ‘catalogue of exotic society, bountiful and generous’ proved a life-long obsession.
While Paolozzi is known for his vital work across many mediums including sculpture, collage, drawing, ceramics and textile design, like contemporaries such as Hamilton and Hockney, for Paolozzi printmaking was a primary pursuit. He made a handful of prints in the 1950s but it was really in the sixties that Paolozzi’s in-depth exploration of the printmaking medium began to erupt. His love of collaged imagery was particularly well-suited to the new mediums of screenprinting and photo lithography recently available to him and ‘Moonstrips Empire News’ & ‘General Dynamic F.U.N.’ can be considered as Paolozzi’s definitive statement on ‘modern man and his dilemma’.
Paolozzi’s friend dystopian writer J.G.Ballard provided a riveting foreword to his ‘General Dynamic F.U.N.’ portfolio:
‘The marriage of reason and fantasy which has dominated the 20th century has given birth to an even more ambiguous world. Across the communications landscape move the spectres of sinister technologies and the dreams that money can buy. Thermo-nuclear weapons systems and soft-drink commercials coexist in an overlit realm ruled by advertising and pseudo-events, science and pornography. In ‘Moonstrips Empire News’ Eduardo Paolozzi brilliantly explored the darker side of this mysterious continent. By contrast, in ‘General Dynamic F.U.N.’ he brings together the happiest fruits of a benevolent technology. The leitmotif is the California girl sunbathing on her car roof. The mood is idyllic, at times even domestic. Tactile values are emphasised, the surface pleasures to be found in confectionary, beauty parlours and haute couture fabrics. Children play in a garden pool, a circus elephant crushes a baby Fiat. Varieties of coleslaw are offered to our palates, far more exciting than the bared flesh of the muscle men and striptease queens. Mickey Mouse, elder statesman of Paolozzi’s imagination, presides over this taming of the machine. The only factories shown here are manufacturing dolls. Customised motorcycles and automobile radiator grills show an amiable technology on its vacation day. Despite this pleasant carnival air, a tour de force of charm and good humour, Paolozzi’s role in providing our most important visual abstracting service shoud not be overlooked. Here the familiar materials of our everyday lives, the jostling iconographies of mass advertising and consumer goods, are manipulated to reveal their true identities. For those who can read its pages, ‘General Dynamic F.U.N.’ is a unique guidebook to the electric garden of our minds’.
‘General Dynamic F.U.N.’ is a portfolio of fifty photolithographs and screenprints published by Editions Alecto in 1970. The total edition is 350 copies, divided into 5 different colourways of 70 sets each lettered A, B, C, D & E. The lithographs were printed at Richard Davis, London, and the screenprints at the Alecto Studios, London, by Lyndon Haywood. Six prints are hand-signed and numbered with the others stamped on the reverse with the title, number, printer’s and publisher’s chops and a stylised fascimile of Paolozzi’s signature.
These prints are in many major museum collections including that of MOMA (NY). Prices range from £50 to £600.