Gallery descriptions of Paolozzi’s ‘Cyclops’

The sign by the sculpture at the Tate currently reads:

In classical mythology, a Cyclops was and extremely strong giant with a single eye in the centre of his forehead

However, the description of Cyclops on the Tate website (dated 2004) reads:

The skin of this lumbering bronze figure is imprinted with broken machine-parts and other industrial debris. Paolozzi made it by pressing pieces of metal into a bed of moist clay, and then pouring molten wax into the clay mould. He constructed the model from these sheets of wax forms and finally cast it in bronze. Based on the brutish one-eyed giants of classical mythology, its pierced armour and dilapidated state has been seen as an ironic comment on the condition of man in the nuclear age.

(This appears to be legacy description from before Tate Britain’s Director, Penelope Curtis, edited its labelling with the rehang in 2013):

“… after decades when to read one of the garrulous picture labels at Tate Britain made the heart sink, the new ones tell us only the name of the artist with his birth and death dates, the title of the painting and the year it was painted. What Curtis has understood is that pictures on show in a public gallery are themselves primary data. You study history so that you can understand them, not the other way around. And anyway, who says they need to be studied? Gallery visitors should be allowed to have their own responses to the art in front of them, not told what to think by the curator.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: