TONY CRAGG

Recent Works

24 September - 7 November, 2015

Galerie Klüser & Galerie Klüser 2

Tony Cragg’s first sculptures were made at the start of the 1970s. They were created from a broad range of substances, none of which belonged in the canon of traditional art materials and objects. These found objects were treated, sorted, pulverized and stacked using simple work processes, the artist’s body often being involved as a processing element, as an agent. Cragg had studied in London and initially he was interested in the Minimal and Concept Art of the period.
The oppositional attitude he developed from this debate led him to produce basic geometric forms, which he constructed in materials that do not actually allow an exact geometric form. Their spectrum was extended according to the principle that all materials are interesting for a sculptor, and that nothing is insignificant. Facing this inexhaustible store, it became clear to Cragg that – in analogy to nature – the forms of industrially manufactured objects are also founded on basic forms or geometries. In nature, however, such basic forms – which can be equated with abstractions – are considerably more versatile and complex than in industrial production systems, which are oriented on economic factors as a rule, and therefore produce simple forms. Tony Cragg understands sculpture as the revitalization of forms that – free of utilitarian constraints – are developed from materials in a permanent process of experimentation with and development of form and content. He has described himself repeatedly as a »radical materialist«. This implies that ultimately, all perceptible experiences are characteristics of a superior material reality, inclusive of all emotions, intelligence and the spirit, which are understood as material phenomena. Aesthetics are an existential system of evaluation, variable according to the circumstances of life, and they lead to evaluations such as beautiful and ugly, right and wrong, good or evil. Form and content, therefore, can never be regarded as separate aspects. Cragg sees form as always being the outcome of inner energies and forces. In the two extensive work groups, »Early Forms« and »Rational Beings«, he investigates – in differing ways – the relations between natural and artificial form, between external appearance and inner structures, and between visible and no longer perceptible material reality. Thus, for example, a work such as “Wild Relatives” – one of those »rational beings« whose human profile dissolves into an overlapping of innumerable, slightly realigned layers – makes us aware of the permanently transformable nature of organic forms, here translated into rigid material. Sculptor Tony Cragg works from the conviction that everything we have in our minds – our values, ideas, concepts and language – is a direct result of our material surroundings, and that sculpture plays a radical part within the production of an extended formal vocabulary.
Dr. Maria Müller-Schareck

Selected Works

Tony Crag, 2016, bronze

About the artist

The sculptor Tony Cragg was born in 1949 in Liverpool. He has been living in Wuppertal, Germany, since 1977. During his studies at the Gloucestershire College of Art and Design and the London Royal College of Art he started to take a great interest in sculpture. In an early period Cragg used found objects like construction waste, plastic parts, trash and household items. By using those materials he creates three-dimensional works just as mosaics with flatter objects and fragments. Since the 80s the artist began to apply more traditional techniques such as drawing, bronze und wood sculpture. At the same time Cragg already was appointed professor at the art academy in Dusseldorf and in 2001 he accepted a chair at the Berlin University of the Arts. However, Cragg returned to the art academy in Dusseldorf in 2006 where he served as the chancellor between 2009 and 2013. His work can be found in several renowned collections as well as in public spaces. Cragg was awarded the Turner Prize in 1988 and took part in documenta VII and VIII as well as in other art biennales. The Galerie Klüser has been representing the artist since 1981. Apart from the organisation and support of many museum exhibitions, the gallery is also a publisher of a wide number of editions and catalogues on the artist.

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