The Edinburgh-born son of Italian immigrant parents, Eduardo Luigi Paolozzi (1924-2005) was one of the key figures in the British Pop Art movement.
Pop Art embraced the imagery of the 1950s and 1960s, eras in which commercialism and mass ‘popular’ culture thrived. This rise in materialism often led to a rise in emotional detachment from the world. Pop Art aimed to subvert the ‘low art’ form of mass culture into ‘high art’ via mimicry.
In Wittgenstein in New York (1965), the viewer identifies the characteristically bright, mechanistic and graphic style of Paolozzi’s work. The screen-print collage of industrial diagrams and contemporary advertisement clippings is based on the life and works of the Austrian philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein.
Although Wittgenstein’s philosophy is multifaceted, he argued that an object’s meaning came not only from what was said about it, but also the surroundings in which it was placed. Similarly, Paolozzi wanted to show that the meaning of the screen-print was in fact the screen-print itself. In this line of thought, art does not always need to have ‘something to say’. The existence of the art work can be viewed as existing independently of external thoughts and analysis.