Eduardo Paolozzi was born to Italian parents in Leith, near Edinburgh, on March 7, 1924. He took evening classes at the Edinburgh College of Art in 1943 and studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, London, from 1945 to 1947. His first solo exhibition took place at the Mayor Gallery, London, in 1947. From 1947 to 1949 Paolozzi lived in Paris, where he met Constantin Brancusi, Jean Dubuffet, Alberto Giacometti, and Tristan Tzara. Deeply interested in Dada, Surrealism and Art Brut, he was especially drawn to Surrealist collages. Returning to London in 1949, he associated with Francis Bacon, with whom he shared an enthusiasm for pulp imagery and coarse surfaces. From 1949 to 1955 Paolozzi taught textile design at the Central School of Art and Design, London.

A leader in the development of British Pop Art, in 1953 Paolozzi was a member of the Independent Group of artists and critics in London, influencing the group's interest in popular imagery, and organizing its major exhibitions. In the 1950s Paolozzi introduced the idea of collage in sculpture, and incorporated found objects into his hulking, rough-surfaced, anthropomorphic or animal figures made in cast metal. In the 1960s these figures were succeeded by austere polished metal sculptures featuring simpler and more monumental components that often included or referred to machine parts. Among the major group shows in which the artist participated during this period were the Venice Biennale of 1952 and 1960, and the São Paulo Bienal of 1963.

Active as a printmaker since 1950, Paolozzi produced his first unified graphic series, All Is When, in 1964. During the 1970s he produced compartmentalized boxlike reliefs in wood or bronze as well as freestanding cast metal sculptures with machine references. His major solo exhibitions include retrospectives at the Tate Gallery, London, 1971, and the Nationalgalerie, Berlin, 1975, and a print retrospective at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1977. In 1978 he was elected to the Royal Academy. Paolozzi died in London on April 22, 2005.