Biography of Tony Cragg
Since winning the Turner prize in 1988 Tony Cragg has become one of the most revered sculptors working today. His extensive explorations into material space and man’s relation to it have fostered a diverse and potent body of work. Born in Liverpool in 1949, Cragg worked as lab technician in a biochemical laboratory before winning a place at the Wimbledon School of Art and then in 1977 at the Royal College of Art.
Although initially intrigued by the possibilities of installation art, Cragg began focusing more on individual objects and using permanent materials such as metal, fiberglass, and wood. In much of his early work he would use manmade containers, manipulating their familiar aspect and investigating how they morph into and around one another in space. Form and meaning are wholly dependent on each other, the artist believing that alterations to one has ramifications for the other.
More recently Cragg has been pushing towards a new abstracted understanding of the human figure. In fact, the human profile becomes a febrile entity in the hands of Cragg who plays with the notion of compression and expansion. These humanoid sculptures spiral around formal constructions and complicated organic forms that aim to elicit emotional responses in the viewer. The rendering of these human forms in a futuristic manner are often barely perceptibly human. A keen draughtsman, much of his most recent work has been dedicated to drawing which was his first passion—he is also a celebrated maker of limited editions and multiples.
Cragg has had a celebrated career and the same year he won the Turner Prize in 1988, he was selected to represent Britain at the 43rd Venice Biennale. In 1994 he was appointed a Royal Academician and in 2002 he was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). He has had numerous solo shows around the world including at the Tate Gallery, Liverpool in 2000, the MACRO Museum of Contemporary Art, Rome in 2003, the CAFA Museum in Beijing in China in 2012 and The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia in 2016. He has been teaching at the Kunstakademie of Dusseldorf since 1978.