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Original design for London landmark to sell at Lyon & Turnbull

The original study for one of London’s most famous public artworks is heading for auction in Edinburgh next month.
Lyon & Turnbull will offer Eduardo Paolozzi’s original design for his Tottenham Court Road mosaics, which have adorned the walls of the London Underground station for more than 20 years.

"Eduardo Paolozzi’s Tottenham Court Road Station mosaics are among the most visited and beloved public works of art in London," said Daniel F. Herrmann, Head of Curatorial Studies at the Whitechapel Gallery.

"With their images of popular culture from Jazz to Science Fiction, they celebrate everyday life and art for all."

The design features elements which reference the vibrant area of central London surrounding the station.

These include musical instruments and notes relating to the musical hub of Soho; cameras and circuits mirroring the electrical stores of Tottenham Court Road and Fitzrovia; and Egyptian motifs which reference the exhibits at the British Museum.

The mosaics were commissioned by London Transport in 1979, and completed in 1986. Spanning 950 square metres throughout the station, they are seen by an estimated 150,000 commuters every day.

The collage offered at Lyon & Turnbull dates from 1982, and comprises his final design for the mosaic which ran along the station’s Central Line Platform.

"Using collage in a sense to mimic the painstaking method of the eventual mosaic construction, the artist summons up in a single piece of work the essential meaning of this extraordinary and vitally important commission," said the auction house.

"It is not perhaps going too far to say that it can be seen as an encapsulation of everything that made Paolozzi one of the greatest British artists of the 20th century."

Tottenham Court Road underwent a £500 million renovation between 2009 and 2017, during which the mosaics were painstakingly restored and preserved.

Around 95% of the mosaics were retained, and sections of the old arches which could not be relocated within the station were transported to the Edinburgh College of Art, where Paolozzi himself studied in the 1940s.

Lyon & Turnbull’s Contemporary and Post-War Art Sale takes place in Edinburgh on August 17.

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