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Between and Mortarboard


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Inside Down Under... What are the building blocks of structuralism?

Accession Number
2000/2.14.15

Title
Inside Down Under... What are the building blocks of structuralism?

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."

As with other prints in this series, there is a playful and recognizable character, here Disney's Minnie Mouse, at the center of a more complex satire. The title likely refers to the new Post-Structuralist theories coming primarily out of French theorists, like Jacques Derrida, which took off in the United States in the mid-1960s. These ideas proposed that language systems relied on signs to create meaning rather than having an inherent truth quality, questioning the very way humans understand the universe. With only sign and no signifier, the world was "Inside Down Under." Minnie Mouse plays a role here as a sign, not only as a stand-in for Disney but of American culture itself. Moreover, the tiny text below her portrait "April 12, 1945" is the date that sitting President Franklin D. Roosevelt died while in office, just before the end of World War II. Roosevelt and the American government had worked hand in hand with Walt Disney and his company to create propaganda for the war effort on the home front. 

Physical Description
This multi-colored photolithograph has an image of Minnie Mouse at the left center surrounded by a variety of geometric shapes and lines. Minnie Mouse's body is made up of dots. Below the figure, there is small, blurry text that reads "April 12, 1945." 

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)
animated cartoons
portfolios (groups of works)
propaganda

& Author Notes

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