Part 2. Tony Cragg
Ever seen a classic American Western? Then you are likely to draw an immediate connection between Tony Cragg’s signature stacked form-shifting pillars and the sand-stone formations of, say Antelope Canyon in northern Arizona. It’s as if Cragg, a British sculptor, who came to fame in the 1980’s, carved out a portion of the mesa and transported it into an urban environment. As Rose Lord, Director of Marian Goodman Gallery in New York and Paris, explained, the artist, who previously worked with a variety of non-traditional materials, including plastics and found objects, now turned to more traditional materials including wood and bronze.
Cragg is a versatile manipulator of the medium using, in this particular case, reflective qualities of the patina to make the sculpture appear much lighter than it really is. In fact the surface seems to imitate plastic – his earlier tool of choice. Other works in the series, some small enough to fit on a pedestal – others towering meters above the viewer, appear to be flaking with rust or glowing with hi-gloss black paint. This is an artist with a rich technical vocabulary, unique vision and unsurpassed skill, who is just as comfortable working with unconventional materials such as glass tableware, thousands of dice stacked together to form fluid overlapping folds, found objects, and plastics, as he is with the more accepted media, such as perforated steel, wood or bronze.
Video interview transcript
Rose Lord: I’m standing next to a sculpture by Tony Cragg. He is a British artist who came to prominence in 1980’s using industrial materials: he used a lot of plastic, a lot of found work and then around the late 90s he started to use very kind of classic sculpture materials, like this particular work is made out of bronze, but in an unconventional way.
This particular piece is based on a number of profiles and it’s actually cast in sections and put together, but then it has this wonderful kind of gold patina on it which has been poured to make the piece look very fluid and like it’s in motion, which is obsolete opposite of bronze. If you think of a bronze sculpture it is very kind of immutable, solid, unmovable piece and Tony’s work, this work in particular I think, gives the exact opposite impression.
He works in all scales. There are some works that are on a pedestal, like last year or the year before, I think, we showed a piece by Tony that was a much smaller piece on pedestal. There are huge pieces, like much bigger than this. He is a total virtuoso, he can make anything, any size, any material and he’s very much based on science as well as dynamics and he’s very excited about everything that he makes. He can make anything in any size, everything is possible with Tony.
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