Saturday, May 3, 2014

As Is When

As Is When came out in 1965, a series by English Pop artist Eduardo Paolozzi (1924-2005). Of the bright copies preserved at the Tate, my own favorite from this group is the "trial proof" below, unbounded by the tight format of the finished pieces.

"The life and theories of the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein inspired this sequence of screenprints.  Each print includes quotations from Wittgenstein''s own writings or passages from a biography.  The collages of fragmented images relate to these texts. Paolozzi has described the prints as ''a kind of combined autobiography.''  His Italian background led him to identify with Wittgenstein as ''a foreigner in England,'' who shared an interest in engineering and a love of cinema.  He has also drawn parallels between Wittgenstein''s theories of language and his own artistic practice."

The museum offers this description without commenting on its irony. Yet the same fertility of ideas and the same highbrow influences that still work in Paolozzi's favor with curators also work against him with the public. Warhol set the template. Pop artists are supposed to be dimwits.