Sir Eduardo Paolozzi (British, 1924-2005) Horse's Head 69.2 cm. (27 1/4 in.) high
Lot 21AR W
Sir Eduardo Paolozzi
(British, 1924-2005)
Horse's Head 69.2 cm. (27 1/4 in.) high
£40,000 - 60,000
US$ 68,000 - 100,000
Lot Details
Sir Eduardo Paolozzi (British, 1924-2005)
Horse's Head
signed, numbered, inscribed and dated 'Eduardo Paolozzi 1/3/SLADE 1947' and stamped with the Morris Singer Foundry stamp (on two sides of the base)
bronze with a black patina
69.2 cm. (27 1/4 in.) high
Conceived in 1946 in concrete, cast in 1974

Footnotes

  • PROVENANCE:
    Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner
    Private Collection, U.K.

    EXHIBITED:
    London, Mayor Gallery, Drawings by Eduardo Paolozzi, 14 January-1 February 1947 (red concrete version)
    Hannover, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Eduardo Paolozzi, 8 December 1974-19 January 1975, cat.no.1, p.56 (another cast ill.b&w)
    Berlin, Nationalgalerie, Eduardo Paolozzi, 5 February–6 April 1975, cat.no.1, p.56 (another cast ill.b&w)
    Newcastle, Laing Art Gallery, Eduardo Paolozzi, Sculptures, Drawings, Collages and Graphics, 17 April-16 May 1976, cat.no.1, p.9 (three casts exhibited, concrete version ill.b&w); this exhibition later travelled to Edinburgh, Scottish Arts Council Gallery, 29 May-27 June, Leigh, Turnpike Gallery, 3-24 July, Wolverhampton, Municipal Art Gallery, 31 July-29 August, Hull, Ferens Art Gallery, 4 September-3 October, Southampton, Art Gallery, 9 October-14 November, Cardiff, Chapter Arts Centre, 4-22 January 1977 and Kendal, Abbot Hall Art Gallery 29 January-26 February
    Edinburgh, Royal Scottish Academy, Eduardo Paolozzi: Recurring Themes, 1984, cat.no.AI.1 (another cast ill.b&w); this exhibition later travelled to Munich, Staditsche Galerie, Autumn 1984, Cologne, Museum Ludwig, 1985 and Breda, De Beyard Centrum Voor Beeldende Kunst, 1985

    LITERATURE:
    Robert Melville, Eduardo Paolozzi, in Horizon, Volume XVI, September 1947, p.213 (ill.b&w red and white concrete versions)
    Winifred Konnertz, Eduardo Paolozzi, Dumont, Cologne, 1984, pl.35 (another cast ill.b&w)
    Fiona Pearson, Paolozzi, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1999, p.18, pl.10 (another cast col.ill)

    'His sculpture is, so far, rather crude in facture, although I have no doubt that it is the field in which his originality will find its greatest scope. Some of it is already different from anything else that I have seen. His horses heads, for instance, constructed out of a selection of their features, establish a relationship with half the animal styles of the past without a sign of conformism; I find the large empty rings for nostrils, hanging out like fabulous circular bones from a central stem, quite unforgettable, and throughout all his work in concrete, warm, active, friendly forms are coming into existence.' (Robert Melville, Eduardo Paolozzi, in Horizon, volume XVI, September 1947, p.213).

    Horse's Head was originally made in concrete and shown in Paolozzi's first one-man exhibition at the Mayor Gallery, Brook Street, in January 1947, with the concrete sculpture Seagull and Fish, and Blue Fisherman (both in private collections), and a series of fisherman, fish and seagull related drawings based on subjects from Newhaven on the Scottish coast, close by his native Leith where he grew up. No catalogue was published. With the proceeds from the exhibition Paolozzi left for Paris in June, where he lived for the next two years. Two versions of Horse's Head were shown in the Mayor exhibition, one in white concrete (whereabouts unknown), and one in red concrete (private collection), from which the three bronze versions were cast in 1974.

    The expressive reductivism of Horse's Head evokes the Horse of Selene from the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum, where in the immediate post-war years Paolozzi was a frequent visitor. But to a modernist viewer it invites an immediate comparison with Picasso. In 1947, Robert Melville compared it to Picasso of the 1930s, and there is an obvious analogy with images such as the anguished horse at the centre of Guernica, which other critics also noticed at the time. There was no doubt that when he arrived in the Sculpture School of the Slade in the autumn of 1945 Picasso was at the heart of Paolozzi's agenda. To friends and fellow students alike Paolozzi was known simply as 'Pablo' – or 'Pab'. That winter in London there was also no shortage of works by Picasso available for Paolozzi to study. On view at the V & A in Paintings by Picasso and Matisse, an exhibition regarded with horror by Paolozzi's teachers at the Slade, were exactly the kind of still lifes and portraits by Picasso from the early to-mid 1940s which would have inspired Horse's Head. Early in 1945 he would also have seen a wide range of Picassos at Jack Bilbo's Modern Art Gallery. Yet, as Melville noted in his 1947 review in Horizon, Paolozzi did not, like so many other artists, simply treat 'the art of Picasso as a vast raiding ground . . . [but] adopted a similar mode of beholding, with the aim of inventing comparable forms of his own.' Among the books on Picasso which Paolozzi owned at the Slade was an English version of Jean Cassou's monograph Picasso (1940), parts of the second section of which, 'The theory of Imitation', concerning the nature of artistic influence in French culture, he heavily annotated and underlined.

    Among fellow Scottish artists who 'adopted a similar mode of beholding' as Picasso, were the artists known as the 'Two Roberts', Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde, the former of whom Melville cited as an influence on Paolozzi's drawings, and whom Paolozzi knew when he was at the Slade. He remembered returning with the 'Two Roberts' to the Slade Hostel at 28 Cartwright Gardens WC2 after a night out, and boiling a pan of water for spaghetti, only for them all to fall asleep and awake to a room filled with acrid smoke and steam. But the sculptor who shared Paolozzi's interest in Picasso was another fellow Scot, the Dundee-born artist William Turnbull, whose Horse, in plaster and painted yellow, was made soon after his arrival at the Slade in the autumn of 1946, and which, for all intents and purposes, is practically coeval with Horse's Head. (Patrick Elliott, William Turnbull, Sculpture and Paintings, Merrell Holberton Publishers, London, in association with Serpentine Gallery, 1995, p.11 & 13). A painting, by their fellow Slade student Doff Ransome, of the interior of the Slade Hostel at 28 Cartwright Gardens WC2, shows portraits of both Turnbull and Paolozzi at this time (repr. Robin Spencer (ed.) Paolozzi Writings and Interviews, Oxford, 2000, p. 56).

    During the second half of 1946 Paolozzi did not attend the Slade, but spent time drawing in his room in Cartwright Gardens, and working on his concrete sculpture in the basement; a number of drawings which relate to Horse's Head are recorded. As a sculptor Paolozzi was largely self-taught; for both Paolozzi and Turnbull regarded the teaching at the Slade as completely useless. He owned a copy of Albert Toft's Sculpture and Modelling (1929) from which he learned the basic techniques, such as how to make moulds and armatures. But Toft has nothing to say about concrete, and in his memoirs Paolozzi describes the hazardous process of working with concrete: [I would] 'just butter it on as best I could'; which was clearly a process of trial and error (Eduardo Paolozzi, National Life Story Collection: Artists' Lives (1993-5). Shelfmark L 466/17, British Library). Jack C. Rich's The Materials and Methods of Sculpture, the first sculpture manual to deal comprehensively with the technicalities of concrete, was published just a few months too late to come to his assistance (Oxford 1947).

    Paolozzi's choice of concrete as a material to make sculpture may have been dictated by its low cost. However, concrete carried distinctly modernist overtones. Henry Moore had used it to make several sculptures between 1929 and 1933, and the medium lent itself to the internationalist aesthetic for architecturally related sculpture of the 1930s. In the 1940s and immediate post-war years, reinforced concrete was also used by some of the sculptors of the 'New Scottish Group', such as Loris Rey and Helen Biggar, whose work Paolozzi could have known when he lived in Scotland; and about whom Robert Melville wrote in The Listener in 1943 (see The New Scottish Group, William Mclennan, Glasgow, 1947). But the sculptor who received the most widespread publicity for working in concrete was the maverick self-taught artist and modernist gallerist Jack Bilbo (1947-1967), whose garden at Weybridge was the site between 1946 and 1949 of three giant female statues in concrete, and which even featured on a Pathé News newsreel.

    The present lot is the only known bronze cast of Horse's Head in private hands, the further two from the edition reside in the City of Edinburgh Art Collection, Edinburgh Arts Centre (purchased 1980, 2/3) and in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (purchased 1993, 3/3).

    We are grateful to Professor Robin Spencer for compiling this catalogue entry. Professor Spencer would like to thank Freda Paolozzi and Fiona Pearson for their assistance.
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