Andy Warhol and Eduardo Paolozzi: I Want to Be a Machine
- David Pollock
- 21 December 2018
A wealth of creative history to explore at this retrospective for the two artists
Between them, the pop artists Warhol and Paolozzi have to be two of the most widely-exhibited artists in the city of Edinburgh, and the need for a retrospective for either feels not urgently pressing. Yet it remains pleasing to see Paolozzi's work in the city of his birth no matter what, and it's in the smart curation of this exhibition that it really becomes something more than a trawl through the greatest hits. Both were not just transatlantic contemporaries working in the field of pop art, but they each had similar fascinations which drew upon their take on art as a potential product of mechanical mass consumption.
With the upstairs galleries divided into two halves, each contains a mini-retrospective of the respective artist, with an impressive amount of their works on display and a particular focus on these mechanistic qualities they bore. Warhol, who declared that he wanted to be a machine himself in 1963, in relation to the anonymous and mass-productive capabilities of screenprinting, is represented by a room of earlier work which demonstrates his commercial jobs – including record sleeve design and book cover creation – alongside his more traditional, Truman Capote-influenced first exhibition and experiments with abstract stencilling.
The second room is where the Warhol as we know him exists, with his famously multiple-screenprinted image of Marilyn Monroe's face, for example, his stitched photographs – monochrome photo prints placed together in repetitive series' – and drawings, designs and photographs which illustrate his obsession with the industrial qualities of mass-produced celebrity and consumer culture; the Beatles, Gilbert & George, Basquiat, Grace Jones and Levi 501 jeans were all players on this stage for Warhol.
With Paolozzi, meanwhile, we also have a room of his early drawings, taking the form of almost mathematical diagrams, collages snipped from magazine adverts, and bronze sculptures; while next door his larger bronzes, like broken down machines abandoned long in the future; his bright and evocative abstract screenprints; and ephemera like some drawings to accompany his 1971 film Mr. Machine – itself a reference to a childhood game of the same name – reintroduce him as a futurist of his day. There is a wealth of creative history to bite into here, and yet it only scratches the surface of both artist's era-defining output.
Andy Warhol and Eduardo Paolozzi: I Want to Be a Machine, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art 2, Edinburgh, until Sun 2 Jun.