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Place(s) of work: Wuppertal (de)
Tony Cragg's innovative use of urban and industrial detritus opened up a new territory for sculpture at the same time as dealing with environmental and social concerns in post-industrial Britain. His first large-scale sculptures were stacks built with found and discarded building materials densely packed together to form solid cubes which could be viewed as sections of geological or archaeological strata from another age. These early works led him to using miscellaneous found items, most commonly made of plastic, to compose images of objects such as an axehead, a canoe, a vacuum cleaner, vessels and figures.
Throughout the 1980s, he worked with an increasingly wide range of materials including wood, stone, cast iron, glass, aluminium and bronze. Mother's Milk II, 1988, shown in his exhibition for the Venice Biennale of the same year, is one of a number of large bronze sculptures of the late 1980s which explored vessel forms derived from laboratory flasks. These sculptures with their rounded shapes were a departure from the flat and stacked configurations which preceded them, and they appeared to both reflect Cragg's knowledge of and continued concerns with scientific matters as well as suggesting a vocabulary for the body and bodily functions. The vessel and the stacking of materials, both of which are combined in the elaborate glass sculptures of the 1990s, have been constant elements in Cragg's diverse sculptural output over the last twenty-five years.
Since 1977, he has lived in Wuppertal, Germany and also maintains a studio on the island of Tjörn near Sweden.
Cragg, who had worked as a laboratory technician for the Natural Rubber Producers Research Association before turning to art, was awarded the Turner Prize in 1988 and the Praemium Imperiale art prize in 2007.(read less)
Inspirations & Key Themes: Arte Povera, Conceptualism, Land Art, Minimalism
Influenced by : Joseph Beuys , Richard Long , Robert Smithson
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