This month a major retrospective of Scottish artist Sir Eduardo Paolozzi (1924-2005) opens at the Whitechapel Gallery in London. The British Council Collection has loaned 21 artworks to this ambitious exhibition, which explores five decades of Paolozzi’s diverse artistic practice.

The British Council first bought works by Paolozzi in 1968 and since then we have acquired a wide-ranging collection of prints, paintings, drawings and sculptures by him. These art works have featured in many British Council exhibitions and loans to museums and galleries, touring to over 250 venues across 6 continents. Within his lifetime, Paolozzi also generously gifted several collages and print portfolios to the Collection, enabling us to bring his vibrant work to huge international audiences.

Paolozzi has twice presented work in the British Pavilion, organised by the British Council for the prestigious Venice Art Biennale (La Biennale di Venezia). In 1952, art critic Herbert Read commissioned the group exhibition New Aspects of British Sculpture featuring Paolozzi’s groundbreaking performance lecture Bunk!, a slideshow of collages which will be on show in the Whitechapel Gallery's retrospective. He was selected again for a group exhibition in 1960 and won the David E. Bright Foundation Prize for his presentation of a herd of abstract bronze animals exemplifying his unique use of collage techniques on three-dimensional forms.

One of the pieces that we are particularly delighted to be loaning to this exhibition is our much-loved work Diana as an Engine I (1963/66). This celebratory sculpture took its first journey with the British Council in 1969 to Sweden as part of the touring exhibition Eduardo Paolozzi: Sculpture, Drawing, Prints, and has travelled extensively ever since. Using playful form and colours, Paolozzi allows the viewer to see their own collage of objects such as liquorice allsort sweets, ferris wheels, lipsticks and fire hydrants.

Written by Harriet Cooper, Curator, British Council

See which British Council Collection works are on view in Eduardo Paolozzi at the Whitechapel Gallery in London

Look at all 221 works by Eduardo Paolozzi in the British Council Collection

Learn more about the history of the UK at the Venice Biennale