The principle of stacking is the common thread running through the artistic œuvre of the British-born artist (*1949 in Liverpool). It is possible to follow this method directly in his first large-format sculptures from the work complex ‘Stack’ (1975-1985). Objects created by nature and man are piled up like layers of rock, growing into a cube.
While his early works are composed mainly of found objects such as flotsam or bits of glass and plastic, his more recent pieces are made from classic sculptural materials such as wood, bronze and steel. Here, geometric bodies and forms are heaped on top of each other, repeated, distorted and turned. Two continuously developing and occasionally merging series of works were founded on this principle. In the series ‘Early Forms’, the sculptural configuration is based on stacked ‘vessels’ which generate a complex interplay of positive and negative spaces. The series ‘Rational Beings’ makes use of basic geometric forms – mostly circles or ellipses – which expand into dynamic structures through multiple stratification and occasionally suggest abstracted human faces.
Craggs sculptures exist in a state between natural and artificial form. Geology, archaeology, neuroscience, molecular biology or genetic engineering provide the artist with an inexhaustible store of inspiration regarding form and materiality, and ideas for further development.
The works now on show at Galerie Klüser 2 are reminiscent of petrified fossils, rock modelled by natural forces, or – as in ‘Me and Me’ (2018) – of desert roses. But they are not images of nature. Although Cragg makes use of nature’s basic structures, he develops his own personal formal language from them, lending the sculptures a new identity by means of smooth, shiny surfaces, patina and monumental dimensions.
Far away from material and physical limitations, research into forms can unfold freely in his drawings. In some, it is possible to find direct references to his sculptures, others develop as independent series of autonomous structures.
As one of the most important sculptors of our time, thus Anthony Cragg has created an œuvre in which he consistently maintains his formal language in a unique and characteristic manner, constantly repositioning it.
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.