Eduardo Paolozzi had an indissoluble interest for collage throughout his career. Up until 1950, his collages usually consisted of simple shapes, cut out, and pasted on top of very unorthodox and improbable supports.
By the beginning of the 1950s, Paolozzi started to utilise the covers of the American magazine, Time. He cut, opened up and marked the bland features of the faces that graced the covers presenting them with a new metamorphose of ridicule.
However, it is appears, Paolozzi’s early lithograph Marine Composition, 1950 (Tate Collection, London) stands as the catapult for the present work. It depicts a large fish seen in profile surrounded by smaller fish and tiny organisms. The dots, dashes , lines and spirals used, form the basis of Paolozzi’s visual vocabulary for the rest of the 1950s and it is these marks that represent the underlying component for Untitled Collage.
`During the first part of the 1950s, Paolozzi devised collage techniques to create a series of presences which embodied the spirit of various total systems. As visual metaphors for a variety of natural and man-made `communications networks’, they reflected the interest which was developing in many places at this time in the informal image systems of various macro- and micro-structures. Jackson Pollock’s interwoven loops of dripped and splattered paint covered huge canvas fields with overall patterns which seemed to reveal usually unseen energy paths. Artists like Dubuffet specifically cited new sources for their art in descriptive, physics, geology, geography, and biochemistry. Possibly the new interests were partially stimulated by the cross-disciplinary investigations connected with a new field of cybernetics. Certainly, in the arts, it was also reinforced by several photo books which explored aspects of the world hitherto mostly invisible. Moholy-Nagy’s Vision in Motion, Thompson’s Nature and Form, Ozenfant’s Foundations of Modern Art, Gutkind’s Our World From the Air, and Kepes’ The New Landscape each presented different aspects of the new visual frontiers which Kepes described as `magnification of optical data, expansion and compression of events in time, expansion of the eye’s sensitivity range, and modulation of signals' (D.Kirkpatrick, Eduardo Paolozzi, London, 1969, p. 19)
Untitled Collage is almost entirely covered with collage made up of fragments of paper, coloured card and decorated in ink. Paolozzi abandoned distinctions between foreground and background in favour of an all-over pattern of vertical and horizontal lines, rectilinear shapes and loose and uneven ink indentations. Without a focal point, the pattern has the potential to extend limitlessly in any direction.
In 1952, Paolozzi was commissioned by modernist architects Jane Drew and Edwin Maxwell Fry to create a mural (Collage Mural, Tate Collection, London) for the offices of their firm, Fry, Drew and Partners, in London. The present work's point of inception (with Marine Composition included) fingers to Collage Mural. The haphazard collage cleverly links to the typical paper paraphernalia of the office environment – a man-made communications network.