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Tony Cragg, b.1949


‘Untitled’ is one of a series of large to medium scale bronze sculptures by Tony Cragg, the forms of which are derived from scientific laboratory vessels. The work has a singular element taking the form of a glass bottle or flask and reveals Cragg’s ongoing interest in science and technology and the world of manufacturing. This is expressed by the use of a diversity of materials with a conventional commitment to sculptures as objects complete in themselves.
The sculptural dynamic of ‘Untitled’ seems to articulate the position of the gigantic vessel in two positions, upright and lying on its side. The sweeping contour or ‘open lip’ articulates all the dynamic positions in between these two static positions. Cragg notes: “At the point at which Einstein said there is no such thing as matter, he didn’t talk about the particles of things, he talked about things being a chain of events… The sort of work that has occupied me since the mid-1980s is work where the substances develop a body – things like bottles, containers just wrap around surfaces. They become metaphors for bodies of some kind.”
In his 1995 monograph on Tony Cragg, Germano Celant has linked this shift in Cragg’s work (in which ‘Untitled’ is included) with processes of casting: glass, bronze, aluminium cast iron that “lead him to favour masses and membranes. By eschewing fragmentation and segmentation (in his earlier work) the telluric force of the material builds up and forms solid heavy entities”.
These works lead to notions of transformation and alchemical processes and a consideration of the vessels used in these processes, such as test-tubes, pestle and mortars, and wombs in gestation. Celant sees Cragg’s more recent interest in organic forms, fissures and cavities as a natural development of this investigation. Cragg states: “My whole activity is governed by three thematic areas of which the most important one is that of my relationship to the natural world. I also want to have a relationship with the objects and materials around me. And this, which includes the ever growing non-visual information world as well, is the second area. The third constitutes itself out of these two. It has to do with the way functionalism shapes the man-made world”.

Dimensions Unframed, 210 x 210 x 285 cm
Credit LineIMMA Collection: Loan, Weltkunst Foundation, 1994
Item NumberL.535 LW
Copyright For copyright information, please contact the IMMA Collections team: [email protected].
Image Caption
Tony Cragg, Untitled, 1988, Bronze, Unframed, 210 x 210 x 285 cm, Collection Irish Museum of Modern Art, Loan, Weltkunst Foundation, 1994

For copyright information, please contact the IMMA Collections team: [email protected].

About the Artist

Tony Cragg b.1949

English sculptor Tony Cragg attended the Wimbledon School of Art and the Royal College of Art. He moved to Germany in 1977 and taught at Düsseldorf’s Kunstakademie from 1988. With fellow sculptors Bill Woodrow and Richard Deacon, Cragg was associated with the ‘New British Sculpture’ movement of the 1980’s. He won the Turner Prize in 1988. Casting in glass, bronze, aluminium and iron, Cragg’s interest in science and technology is combined with a commitment to sculptures as objects in themselves.

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