Tony Cragg is a British sculptor renown for his dynamic sculptures that transform familiar objects into new and unfamiliar forms. Born in Liverpool, UK in 1949, Cragg received a Bachelors degree from Wimbledon School of Art in London in 1973 and a Masters from the Royal College of Art in London. He worked as a lab technician at the National Rubber Producers Research Association from 1966-68, producing interest in human relations to material. This interest in science and natural history deeply influenced his later artworks.
Cragg began his art career when Minimalism and Conceptual Art were developing. In the 1970s, Cragg’s early work questioned and tested material possibilities. He created site-specific installations of found objects stacked in a taxonomical manner. He viewed these manmade materials as fossilized keys of our world. In the mid-1970s and 1980s, Cragg produced assemblages of objects in reliefs and primary structures on walls and floors, blurring the line between manmade and natural landscapes. These assemblages explored how individual fragments formed larger representational images. In 1977, Cragg moved to Germany and began to examine individual objects and permanent materials like wood, stone, steel, cast iron, and bronze.
In the 1990s, Cragg developed two groups of work: Early Forms and Rational Beings. The Early Forms sculptures were formed from obscuring everyday vessels into new independent forms. This series explored the idea of a container as a metaphor for the body. Cragg is best known for his Rational Beings series of dynamic geometric and figurative columns. These sculptures are made by reworking materials into ripples, figurative curves, and swirling abstractions – giving the effect that they have been halted mid-movement.
Tony Cragg’s structural and abstracted creations have been exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide. He notably represented Britain at the 43rd Venice Biennale in 1988, and was rewarded the Turner Price at the Tate Gallery in London. His work resides in numerous private and public international collections.