Eduardo Paolozzi’s Jet Age Compendium


Detail from the cover of Ambit # 40, 1969.

A teenage enthusiasm for Pop Art meant I was familiar with the paintings and collages of Eduardo Paolozzi (1924–2005) long before I became aware of his association with sf magazine New Worlds, and his friendship with JG Ballard. Paolozzi was famously credited on the masthead of New Worlds as “Aeronautics Advisor”, a listing which impressed the relevant authorities when Brian Aldiss petitioned for an Arts Council grant and saved the magazine from collapse. Paolozzi’s work was featured in New Worlds now and then, and he provided a cover for issue 174, but it was to Ambit magazine one had to turn to see regular work by the artist.


New Worlds #174, Aug 1967.

My favouritism towards New Worlds has always led me to see Ambit as NW-lite; frequent NW contributor JG Ballard was Ambit‘s fiction editor, and both stood to the side of the British literary scene, although Ambit editor Martin Bax didn’t share Michael Moorcock’s preference for pursuing generic or experimental means to Romantic or visionary ends. Quibbles aside, it’s good to see Paolozzi’s work for the magazine is now the subject of an exhibition, The Jet Age Compendium, at Raven Row, London, and also a book, The Jet Age Compendium: Paolozzi at Ambit from Four Corners Books. If you can’t see the former, the latter is priced £12.95 which strikes me as very reasonable.

The Jet Age Compendium runs until 1 November 2009. For an insight into the artist’s interests and attitudes, there’s a great Studio International interview here from 1971 with Paolozzi and Ballard talking to art critic Frank Whitford.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Sculptural collage: Eduardo Paolozzi
Revenant volumes: Bob Haberfield, New Worlds and others

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