Eduardo Paolozzi was born of Italian parents in Leith, Edinburgh, in 1924. He attended evening classes at Edinburgh College of Art in 1943 and then studied at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London, in 1944 before moving onto the Slade School of Fine Art from 1945–47. In 1947, he went to Paris, living there for two years, enrolling briefly at the Ecole des Beaux–Arts and meeting artists such as Arp, Brâncusi, Giacometti and Léger. Eduardo Paolozzi died in April 2005.
He represented Britain at the 30th Venice Biennale in 1960, winning the David E. Bright award for the best artist under thirty. A Seventieth Birthday Exhibition of Paolozzi’s sculpture and graphics was organised at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 1994. He also produced many public commissions, most notably the murals at Tottenham Court Road underground station, the Piscator sculpture outside Euston Station London and Newton, after William Blake, 1995, in the piazza of the British Library. Paolozzi was awarded a CBE in 1968 and became a Royal Academician in 1979. In 1986, Paolozzi was promoted to the office of Her Majesty’s Sculptor in Ordinary for Scotland in 1986. Paolozzi was awarded a KBE and knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1988. In 1994, Paolozzi gave the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art a large body of his works.
Paolozzi was described by JG Ballard as an artist whose work could be used as evidence to reconstruct the twentieth century in the event of a holocaust, and he has been one of Britain's leading sculptors since the 1940s. Acknowledged as the creator of British Pop Art, and a founding member of the ICA, Paolozzi's preoccupation with man and machine reveals the extent to which he brought art and science together. Paolozzi’s work was based on his interest in the mass media and new developments in science and technology of the post–war era; an exploration of the modern age. Paolozzi was a founder of the Independent Group in 1952, regarded as the precursor to the mid–fifties British and late–fifties American Pop Art movements. Paolozzi’s seminal 1947 collage; ‘I was a Rich Man’s Plaything’ is considered the earliest example of Pop Art. He was also influenced by industrial techniques, producing many of his early sculptures in aluminium, incorporating what appeared to be engine parts, brightly painted or finished in polished chrome. Human images that have mechanistic characteristics are his hallmark, as are the complex scenarios in the surrealist mechanical fantasies he produced in sculpture, collage, drawing and print.