Eye Wandering the Ceiling: Ornament and New Brutalism

Mark Crinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Eduardo Paolozzi’s ceiling paper (1952) for the office of the engineer Ronald Jenkins suggests the significance of ornament to New Brutalism, linking categories of art, architecture, and design. Examination of the ceiling paper exposes New Brutalist re-working of an older modernist problematic, and points to a broader range of New Brutalist works concerned with the ceiling, or the zone above our heads. There were different positions on ornament within the Independent Group: some (Richard Hamilton) which suggested that ornamental strategies offered a way of articulating science and art together as common enterprises; others (Paolozzi and Nigel Henderson) which played on ornamental motifs and on ornament’s recursive logic. Key to the latter is the psychoanalysis of perception developed contemporaneously by Anton Ehrenzweig, providing a way of understanding ornament in the anti-gestalt terms of its physical and psychic relation to the embodied viewer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-343
Number of pages25
JournalArt History
Issue number2
Early online date14 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


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