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Synthetic Sirens in the Pink Light District

Accession Number
2000/2.14.6

Title
Synthetic Sirens in the Pink Light District

Artist(s)
Sir Eduardo Paolozzi

Artist Nationality
British (modern)

Object Creation Date
1965-1970

Medium & Support
photolithograph on paper

Dimensions
14 15/16 in x 10 in (38 cm x 25.4 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Professor Diane M. Kirkpatrick

Subject matter
Like many of his contemporaries, Paolozzi used new printing techniques as a way to engage with modern mass media's new visual culture. At the same time, the photomechanical process made the work look mechanically manufactured rather than hand-made, in the traditional artistic sense. Therefore, after he modified, transformed, and assembled the source image(s), the medium would allow for a more uniform final image.

This print is one of a large series of 50 prints included in the 1970 portfolio, which was a second edition of an earlier group of slightly-larger prints titled "Moonstrips Empire News." While the first series was strictly produced as screenprints, this second series "General Dynamic F.U.N." includes works of photolithography, like this one. The themes seen in this portfolio are different in style and subject matter from other Pop works of the period, but engage with the images of a modern mass media, looking beyond just advertising and publicity images. Likewise, the title of the portfolio alludes to the General Dynamics Corporation, who was the manufacturer of the F-111 fighter used during the Vietnam War—the same one referenced in James Rosenquist monumental painting "F-111."

In this addition to the series, Paolozzi juxtaposes a popular culture image—a dragster built and driven by Joe Pirronello—and high art criticism—the title references Lucy Lippard's article of the same title from the May 6, 1968 edition of New York Magazine. Formally, the shiny metal of Pirronello's car mimicks the shiny sculptures illustrated in Lippard's article. Yet, Paolozzi's satirical take on Lippard's description of a post-Pop aesthetic of the late 1960s places the pink squares—the "Pink Light District" a reference to David Weinrib's Star in Lippard's text and to a softer, possibly more light-hearted counterpart to the seedy red-light district imagery—alongside the image of the drag car driver, who is poised with his fiery helmet to run the viewer over. This possibly points to a discomfort in the progressive idea of art Lippard articulates.

Physical Description
This photolithograph is in five colors: burgundy, red-brown, dark-orange, dark-olive, and grey. It shows a photograph of a race car driver in his car with the exhaust pipes at the center of the frame. On the left and below the image, there are a series of irregular squares in the afforementioned colors; they are in random order. 

Primary Object Classification
Print

Collection Area
Modern and Contemporary

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
Pop (fine arts styles)
art criticism
dragsters
photolithographs

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& Author Notes

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