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Thursday31 July 2014

Conservationist outrage over removed Paolozzi

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Bespoke statue on sale at auction

The removal of a major piece of public art by the artist Eduardo Paolozzi has caused outrage among conservationists.

Eduardo Paolozzi's Hephaestus

Eduardo Paolozzi’s giant bronze statue is a self-portrait of the artist as Greek god Hephaestus

The giant bronze statue was commissioned 25 years ago by the London and Paris Property Group for the front facade of an office building on High Holborn designed by DY Davies.

It was removed by the building’s owners last week and is now set for auction at Bonhams at an estimated price of £150,000 to £250,000.

Conservationists worry that this could set a dangerous precedent for similar works of art.

The Twentieth Society said that the statue, which is a self-portrait of the artist as Greek god Hephaestus, will leave a huge void in the principle ground floor facade, for which it once took up a third of the space at eye-level.

In addition, the statue and building are part of a conservation area in the Borough of Camden, raising queries as to whether conservation area consent is needed to remove the sculpture entirely.

Eduardo Paolozzi's Hephaestus

Eduardo Paolozzi’s giant bronze statue in situ

Henrietta  Billings, senior conservation adviser at the Twentieth Century Society, said: “This is public art that has been on display on our streets for 25 years. It is shocking that statues like these on public display, by one of Britain’s most significant 20th century artists, can be removed and sold off to the highest bidder.”

The Twentieth Century Society is urging Camden Council to take immediate action to ensure the restoration of the 2.5m sculpture back into the public realm. They have also contacted Bonhams to request the withdrawal of the statue from sale.

A spokesperson for Bonhams added: “We are taking various views on the statue into consideration. It is currently in our 20th century art sale on the 14th November. It is under review at the moment but we don’t see that there’s any reason why we would have to cancel the sale.”

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Readers' comments (8)

  • "a huge void in the principle ground floor facade, for which it once took up a third of the space at eye-level"

    Or a huge void in BD's proof-reading capabilities ?

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  • Your life must be a huge void.

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  • First the elephants in Victoria, now this. Seems the Tory "rape and pillage" culture has trickled down to the property developers.

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  • zecks_marquise

    muddy, i would argue that it is the other way around. Although a long time ago, the conservative party was founded under entirely different principles. Now just like all the other major parties, they just pander to opinion polls and big donors.

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  • This is terrible news. Surely it's protected by Conservation Area legislation. Go C20!

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  • Seymour Alexander

    Might be able to get a few quid for Nelson whilst they are at it; Bonhams probably wouldn't see any reason not to, as long as they get their 10%.

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  • robert hodges

    Probably of greater concern is Tower Hamlets announced intention to sell their Henry Moore "Draped Seated Woman" to bolster their budget. Moore sold it to LCC for (I think) a very modest £6,000 so that Londoners "in a deprived area" could enjoy it. When the housing estate where it was sited passed to TH, so did the statue. However, Moore intended it for London, not just TH and their budget shortfall. The Mayor has sanctioned the sale, apparently against recommendations of Councillors and in the face of a 1500 name local petition.
    It is currently in a sculpture park inYorkshire after the estate was demolished, allegedly to prevent vandalism. Better it stay there than become a hidden possession in a situation contrary to the artist's wishes.

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  • Quite often, works of art incorporated into developments are put there as a result of a planning condition requiring 'public art' to be included. So is it quite possible that it's removal can't happen without the approval of the planning authority?

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