Winfried Konnertz, Eduardo Paolozzi, DuMont, Germany, 1984, the sculpture that this work is a study for is illustrated, cat no. 232
This work is a study for Paolozzi's bronze, Tyrannical Tower Crowned with Thorns of Violence of the same year. The sculpture was exhibited in Paolozzi’s second exhibition in the USA, at Betty Parson’s Gallery in New York in April-May 1963 (the first show was at the same gallery in 1960; in the second this work was illustrated on the catalogue cover), and was shown at the Battersea outdoor sculpture exhibition later in the year. Gabrielle Keiller bought it from the latter show; she sold it to the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art in 1989.
Tyrannical Tower Crowned with Thorns of Violence occupies an important place in Paolozzi’s oeuvre, standing as it does on the border between the crusty, lost-wax bronzes of the 1950s, and the constructed aluminium works of the 1960s, which are more architectural in appearance. Although made from wax sheets assembled together, just as the works of the late 1950s had been, the forms in the present sculpture are more symmetrical and the surface is much smoother. The ‘waffle’ form in the ‘head’ area was made by pressing the end of a square piece of wood into a clay bed, casting this in plaster and then re-casting it in the form of a wax sheet cast. The ‘thorns’ on top of the figure were cast from a funnel-shaped electrical appliance. The wax was made at Paolozzi’s studio in Dovehouse Street, South Kensington, where he moved in 1960. The bronze was cast by the Fiorini foundry in London, and like almost all of Paolozzi’s large bronzes of the period, is a unique cast. Two other versions of the sculpture, Town Tower and Konsul, both made in 1962, were constructed entirely from pre-cast bronze sheets welded together.
From 1960 to 1962 Paolozzi was visiting professor at the Staatliche Hochschule für Bildene Künste in Hamburg, and the pre-fabricated machine elements he discovered in the ship-yards there influenced him in this change of direction. In a statement made in Hamburg in December 1961 , he writes ‘THE PAST: pressing objects into a clay bed, pouring wax... THE PRESENT: wooden shapes cast in gun metal by engineers foundries assembled like ships by bolt and weld...’ (Middleton, Eduardo Paolozzi, 1963, op.cit.).