Assemblage techniques used in sculpture

Looking again at the way Paolozzi’s ‘Cyclops’ was made you can see that embedded in it are a few identifiable objects; the wheel in the head, and what look like machine parts in the torso and legs. In a lecture at the ICA in 1958 Polozzi lists the kinds of things that he used;

‘Dismembered lock. Toy frog. Rubber dragon. Toy camera. Assorted wheels and electrical parts. Clock parts. Broken comb. Bent fork. Various unidentified objects. Parts of a radio. Old RAF bomb sight. Shaped pieces of wood. Natural objects such as pieces of bark. Gramophone parts. Model automobiles. Reject die castings from factory tip sites’*

I’m a sucker for lists, and I like the way this could almost be read as a poem as well as a collection of objects. Especially when you later read that he thinks of the:

‘sheets [as] an ALPHABET OF ELEMENTS awaiting assembly’*

I also love an alphabet, however, I digress…

The collected objects were pressed into clay and then melted wax was poured into the imprints they left, creating sheets of malleable texture he could cut, mould and assemble. Once happy with the wax object, a mould would be made and it would be cast in metal.

Other artists have also used assemblage – using found objects to create art – for example Tony Cragg’s ‘Stack’ or Louise Nevelson’s ‘Black Wall’.

However, Cragg’s objects in ‘Stack’ aren’t altered in any way part from how they are presented; they are combined to create the new form.

And although Nevelson’s objects are unified by their material (in ‘Black Wall’ they are all wooden) and the colour she used, again they are still the original objects.

Paolozzi’s use of found objects interest me because he transforms them into textures which are then used to create a new, hybrid, object.

More info
Diane Kirkpatrick, Eduardo Paolozzi, London 1970 *pgs 31-33

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