Tony Cragg

(b. 1949)

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(1949– )

British sculptor. He was born in Liverpool, and after studying at the Royal College of Art he settled in Germany in 1977. In his early work he grouped fragments of rubbish, especially discarded and colourful household plastic, to form shapes or images arranged on the floor or wall. These works have been related to the contemporary phenomenon of ‘punk’ culture, associated with young people who, in the late 1970s, responded to alienation and lack of economic prospects with a kind of home-made anarchism of very loud and technically crude music and provocatively aggressive dress and manners. Certainly some of Cragg's sculpture plays on the disparity between its humble material and the grandiosity of its subject, as in Union Jack (1981, City Art Gallery, Leeds). Later work has used more traditional materials such as stone and bronze, but Cragg has remained concerned with the associations as well as the visual qualities of material, for instance the cast-iron bollards incorporated in Raleigh (1986), a work made to be placed in the old Liverpool dock site, near Tate Liverpool. Cragg has a scientific background and this is represented both by works which evoke laboratory equipment and by a piece such as The Worm Returns (1986), which incorporates models of molecular structures. The artist has described the effect which he wants his works to produce thus: ‘I just want to give them [viewers] an alternative: an alternative to looking at nature and an alternative to looking at a dull-headed industrial utilitarian reality.’ In 1988 Cragg represented Britain at the Venice Biennale and also won the Turner Prize.

Further Reading

Arts Council of Great Britain, Tony Cragg (1987)

http://www.tony-cragg.com/texte/Tony%20Cragg%20interviewed%20by%20Jon%20Wood.pdf Tony Cragg interview with Jon Wood, on artist's website.

Subjects: Art.

Reference entries