A wonderful monograph that will most likely be the definitive study of this remarkable artist. His work is instantly recognizable whether it's a piece of sculpture, drawing, print, Rosenthal ceramic tableware (1974) or perhaps textile designs for Horrockses Fashions (1953) and millions must have seen his fascinating glass mosaics on the walls of London's Tottenham Court Road subway station (1984). The book reveals through the text and photos the evolving of Paolozzi's creativity. This was particularly noticeable when he changed from the rough brutalist bronze work to the much cleaner lines of aluminum sculpture in the early Sixties. It's interesting to compare the bronze and aluminum work shown in the book's photos because it is so different yet it is clearly by Paolozzi.
I found the chapter on prints (1950 to 2000) particularly fascinating because of the influence of popular culture in his work. Oddly his well known print 'I was a rich man's plaything' (1951) isn't shown in the book. Because it has the word pop in the collage -- it's coming out of a toy gun -- many have attributed this to the start of pop art and in the same way Richard Hamilton's famous 1956 collage 'Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing?' prominently features a lollipop with the word pop on the wrapping paper so Hamilton's picture is also considered the start of pop art. The lollipop was a well known candy brand called Tootsie Pop rather than the start of an art genre.
Paolozzi's dazzling 'As is when' portfolio of twelve prints (six shown in the book) from 1965 is considered in detail, it was regarded at the time as a masterpiece of the medium. The 1967 'Universe electronic vacuum' set of ten screen prints shows a similar range of colour, rhythm and vibrancy. His 'Bunk' box of forty-five prints from 1972 was actually a collection of graphic work from 1947 to 1952 but quickly became an icon if his print work.
I thought author Judith Collins did a wonderful job describing Paolozzi's life and work, especially as she writes in a conversational style and avoids the rather elitist text found in many art books. There are 180 colour and 80 mono pictures, a Chronology, lists of major public collections, exhibitions and a bibliography. My only criticism of the book, a minor one, is the rather bland layout and typography (using roman numerals for the Contents for example) but apart from that this is a first-class survey of the brilliant Paolozzi.